Envoy to US: Israel's Survival is a Big Deal

Israeli ambassador Ron Dermer says Jerusalem 'not eager to be at odds' with US, but sincerely believes Iran deal threatens its survival.

Nitsan Keidar ,

מסביר את המחלוקת. רון דרמר
מסביר את המחלוקת. רון דרמר
צילום: CNN

Jerusalem feels it has no choice but to fight Washington on the controversial Iranian nuclear agreement, Israel's ambassador to the United States asserted during a television interview which aired Saturday. 

“There’s no question that this is the most important relationship in the world, and we are not eager in any way to have to be at odds on the most important policy priority of the president of the United States. That’s a big deal,” Ron Dermer told CNN’s Fareed Zakaria.

“But… the survival of the state of Israel is also a big deal, and we believe that this deal threatens the survival of Israel,” Dermer said.

The Israeli envoy noted the Jewish state has consistently informed US President Barack Obama of its opposition to the agreement, and was now angling to influence US congressman and senators “who will ultimately decide the fate of this deal.”

“We are telling them that this is a bad deal that endangers Israel’s security,” Dermer said.

Congress is set to vote on the nuclear agreement by September 17 and a battle for votes has pitted the Obama administration against Israel, as well as US pro-Israel lobby AIPAC. 

The Obama administration maintains a diplomatic agreement is the best option for both the US and Israel, and has singled Israel out as the only country in the world to oppose the deal. 

“When the president and the US Secretary of State John Kerry, when they say they believe this deal is better for America and better for Israel, I have no doubt they are being sincere," Dermer acknowledged. 

"We just disagree with their judgement. We think that this deal will endanger Israel’s security,” he added. 

According to Dermer, Israel's top politicians, from Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to opposition head Yitzhak Herzog, are unanimous in their belief the deal leaves Israel a nuclear threshold state and poses a grievous threat to Israel. 

The Israeli envoy remained unfazed when Zakaria confronted him with the names of several formers heads of Israeli security agencies who have voiced support for the deal. 

“We’re a Jewish state, we have a lot of opinions and we’re a democracy. We are not unanimous on anything,” he declared.