Ambassador Says Israel Ready to Dance but Needs a Partner

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Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer said at a July 28 forum that Israel is willing to discuss a two-state peace solution, but the Palestinians won’t agree to that.

Moments after a Palestinian sympathizer eluded security and burst into the room where Israeli Ambassador to the United States Ron Dermer was about to engage former Florida Congressman Robert Wexler in a discussion about the U.S.-Israel relationship, the Miami-raised Dermer wanted to make one thing clear.

Israel is ready and willing to engage the Palestinians in an effort to negotiate peace and a two-state solution but can’t do it alone, he said.


“We cannot negotiate peace by ourselves,” said Dermer, at an S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace forum July 28 in the Pennsylvania Convention Center. “We need to have a partner.

“The conflict between Israel and the Palestinians has been going on 50 years before 1967. The lines drawn then weren’t lines of peace, but war. Israel has moved forward since then. We did everything the international community said we should do in the hope of advancing peace — and the world applauded.

“But then that territory was used to launch thousands of rockets at Israel. We had two-thirds of our population in bomb shelters. This is the reality we face. When we took those steps, it did not advance peace. It created a security disaster for Israel.”

More than a decade since that sequence of events took place in Gaza, little has changed — especially Palestinian attitudes.

“They believe we have the right to self-determination to get our own state,” continued Dermer, “but not to give peace in return. They’d like to see the international community force Israel to make concessions without giving up anything in return.

“So we have a problem, because we do have a prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] willing to accept a Palestinian state, but not one but that will continue the conflict with Israel.”

All of this leaves Americans uncertain what to expect, especially with an election looming.

Wexler noted that former President Bill Clinton wore a button spelling “Hillary” in Hebrew at the Democratic National Convention on July 27. Dermer spoke about the time when then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton helped ease hostilities with the Palestinians, saving countless lives on both sides.

Dermer said Netanyahu and the rest of the government will play it by ear.

“You’ll decide, and we’ll work with whatever administration you elect,” he said. “One of the first things we have work with the new administration is to formulate a common policy. That’s what I’m focused on.”

But Wexler warns politics could enter into the picture.

“I don’t think the substantive policy is different, but the politics are different,” said Wexler, a Democrat who served Florida’s 19th district from 1997 to 2010. “On the Republican side, there appears to be a desire to overly publicize the American-Israel relationship.

“On the Democratic side, it’s a minority, but there are some growing more critical of America’s engagement with Israel.”

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