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Haaretz: Israeli ambassador is persona non grata to US administration

Israel's Haaretz newspaper said that the US views the Israeli ambassador to American, Ron Dermer, as a persona non grata due to his role in coordinating a controversial speech delivered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to Congress two days ago.

In a report published today by Haaretz, the newspaper noted that "if Netanyahu wants to continue working with the White House, then he has no choice but to replace Dermer, who was seen by Washington as a persona non grata, even if the American administration did not explicitly say this."

The newspaper also reported that "Dermer is seen as an 'instigator' who concocted Netanyahu's Congress speech behind Obama's back with John Boehner, the Republican speaker of the House of Representatives."

An unnamed senior American official was quoted by the newspaper as saying: "The elected prime minister will have to determine who Israel's ambassador to the US is, as it is clear to us that Dermer prioritised his relations with Congress over his relations with the administration."

Dermer, 45, was born in Miami, Florida and is closely tied to Netanyahu.

According to the Israeli embassy website in the US, he worked as an advisor to Netanyahu between 2009 and 2013 before being appointed as ambassador to the US.

According to Haaretz, "after Netanyahu's speech, senior US officials made clear that the White House sees Netanyahu as the one who created the current crisis, and so if he is re-elected, the responsibility for repairing the breach will be his."

"We are not the ones who created this crisis," said a senior administration official, according to Haaretz, "President Obama has another two years in office and we wish to go back to a reality where you can work together despite the differences. The prime minister of Israel is the one who needs to find a way to fix this."

According to the newspaper, over the past six years, there have been more than a few ups and downs in the Netanyahu-Obama relationship – tensions, crises, public recriminations and wrangling before the cameras.

The newspaper also noted that "senior US officials say that to date, ongoing relations between the two countries continue to function despite these strains. But this time, they stressed, there was the feeling that Netanyahu was using these differences – in fact, highlighting and intensifying them – for his own political needs."

An unnamed senior American official was also quoted saying: "In the last six years we had big differences over the peace process and on other issues, but the situation now is extremely difficult and feels more politically charged than ever before."

Haaretz said: "It's safe to assume that the White House will shed no tears if Netanyahu is defeated, but the president's advisers understand that there is at least a 50 per cent chance that Netanyahu will occupy the Prime Minister's Office during the last two years of Obama's term as well."

Despite all of this, according the newspaper, "senior administration officials said the White House is not planning any retaliation against Netanyahu, nor is it considering ways to punish him if he wins the election."

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