Dermer: Another Israel-Arab deal expected soon

Israel’s ambassador to the U.S. says work continues behind the scenes on more Israel-Arab mutual recognition.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, says that more Arab countries are moving closer to announcing peace deals with Israel, but that work is continuing quietly behind the scenes.

In a weekend interview with the Saudi-owned news channel Al Arabiya, Dermer predicted more Israel-Arab agreements will be announced soon following the historic announcement on August 13 by U.S. President Donald Trump that the United Arab Emirates and Israel had agreed to formal diplomatic relations.

“We are very conscious of the fact that doing this behind the scenes is very important,” Dermer said.

“There are several countries where there are possibilities [for peace]. I don’t want to say this specific country or not, but there are several countries and we hope that we see another breakthrough very, very, soon – in the weeks, and months ahead.”

Dermer criticized Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his condemnation of the UAE move to establish diplomatic relations with Israel, given that predominantly Muslim Turkey has had full diplomatic relations with Israel for decades.

“We have an embassy in Ankara and Turkey has an embassy in Israel,” Dermer pointed out. “Yet they are castigating and excoriating the Emirates for moving their relationship closer to where the Turkish relationship is with Israel.”

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Dermer said it was “unfortunate” that Erdogan “has not been a constructive force, not been a force for modernity in the region, and he perhaps sees himself as leading the Muslim Brotherhood throughout the Middle East.” He noted that under Erdogan, Turkey has developed strong relations with the Hamas terror group.

The ambassador said the Palestinians were falling behind other Arab leaders who have made peace with Israel.

“Unfortunately the rejectionists among the Palestinians towards peace are the ascendant forces. We have had a century of conflict with the Palestinians and unfortunately, we have not had a Palestinian Anwar Sadat, a Palestinian King Hussain, or a Palestinian like [UAE leader] Sheikh Mohammed that was willing to cross this Rubicon and make peace.”

Dermer said there is “no question” that the UAE leadership remains committed to seeing the Palestinians get self-determination. “Officials constantly told us throughout this process that they were committed to having a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians. They are committed to their future.”

He dismissed criticism of the deal by a former Obama administration member as fringe, saying support for the UAE-Israel accord in America as almost unanimous.

“You really got to go out of your way in the United States to find people who aren’t happy with this agreement,” Dermer said. “I would say 98 to 99 percent of people are happy with it. I have been in Washington for seven years as ambassador and would say this is probably the piece of news that has brought the widest possible consensus around. I’ve seen tremendous support on both sides of the aisle.”

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Asked about a revival of peace talks with the Palestinians, Dermer replied that “we are always prepared for talks with the Palestinians. We have consistently said we are prepared to negotiate.”

“We want to be at peace with all our neighbors and we understand our immediate neighbors are the Palestinians. So we would like to see that conflict end. And I think [UAE leader] Sheikh Mohammed’s decision helps advance a solution to that conflict.”