December 28, 2016
NPR Conducts Hostile Interview with Israeli Ambassador Over UN Resolution
All Things Considered's Robert Siegel conducted a hostile interview with Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer over Israeli criticism of the Obama Administration's alleged role in the United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334. The resolution has deemed Israel's settlements in the West Bank (Judea and Samaria) to be illegal. The U.S. acquiesced to this definition by failing to veto the vote as it usually does for one-sided resolutions unfairly targeting Israel.
Siegel injected his own opinion as fact at several junctures in the interview. Questioning Israel's decision to communicate with President-Elect Donald Trump, Siegel chides Dermer,
"You speak of appropriate channels, though. I mean, Israel is reported to have gone to Donald Trump as president-elect and urged him to call for a veto, which he did. No one sees that as appropriate channels. Do you?"
How does Siegel establish that "No one" sees that as appropriate? All we know is that he clearly doesn't.
When Dermer responds that he thinks it is inappropriate for the outgoing President to "radically change" American foreign policy in his last days in office, Siegel intones:
"but isn't that really not for Israel to decide, which - you know, there's an American president in office. He gets to exercise policy... president of the United States has powers to make foreign policy and to take actions in international bodies? That's not your business. That's just not Israel's business."
But it is Israel's business if it affects Israel. Dermer was not saying that Israel gets to decide how the President exercises his powers, he simply stated that he thought it was inappropriate.
The full transcript is included below:
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
The Israeli government is furious with the U.S. for not vetoing a U.N. security resolution last week. The resolution calls Israeli West Bank settlements a flagrant violation of international law, and it calls a halt to settlement activity essential for salvaging the two-state solution with the Palestinians. A spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says Israel has what he called ironclad information that the Obama administration really helped push this resolution and helped craft it. He cited international sources and sources in the Arab world.
Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, said that his country will present that evidence to the Trump administration through the appropriate channels. And Ambassador Dermer joins us. Welcome to the program once again.
RON DERMER: Good to be with you.
SIEGEL: If Israel isn't going to publicly cite its sources and specify what it says the U.S. did, why was that statement about ironclad information made on Sunday?
DERMER: Well, I think we wanted to make clear why we're so upset by what happened. But it's an old story that the U.N. is just a cesspool of anti-Israel activity. What's new is that the United States doesn't stand up to anti-Israel efforts. But I suppose what is particularly outrageous is the U.S. helped orchestrate behind the scenes. And as I said yesterday, we will present it in the appropriate channels to the new administration. And I'm sure that that information will ultimately get out. But this...
SIEGEL: You speak of appropriate channels, though. I mean, Israel is reported to have gone to Donald Trump as president-elect and urged him to call for a veto, which he did. No one sees that as appropriate channels. Do you?
DERMER: Well, I actually think it's quite appropriate. What is inappropriate is for an outgoing administration in its waning days to radically change American foreign policy. That I'm not sure has ever happened. If President Bush, in the waning days of his presidency, had decided to move the American embassy to Jerusalem, to recognize Israel's annexation of the settlement blocks and maybe the Golan Heights to boot, I'm pretty sure that people would not have been saying, hey, you know, there's one president at a time. We...
SIEGEL: You know that President Reagan opened up talks with the PLO as the administration was on the way out, in its waning days. And that was then U.S. policy. But that...
DERMER: Yeah, but you know that the person who was the president-elect was his own vice president. So it wasn't done...
SIEGEL: Yes, but that's really not - but isn't that really not for Israel to decide, which - you know, there's an American president in office. He gets to exercise policy.
DERMER: Yeah, but American presidents usually will speak to their successors about dramatic policy changes. And in this case, we had no choice but to turn to the president-elect. And we're deeply appreciative that he weighed in because this is not just a blow to us. It's a blow to his policy and how he would like to advance peace in the region moving forward. And that's something that I think a lot of people don't understand.
SIEGEL: U.S. Ambassador Samantha Power, in her speech before abstaining, recited all the ways in which the administration has helped and stood up for Israel at the U.N. But she said in 2011, the U.S. vetoed a resolution that focused on - exclusively on settlements. And since that time, settlement activity has increased and no progress has been made toward a two-state solution.
DERMER: Well, it's not - it's not been...
SIEGEL: First, would you disagree with that diagnosis?
DERMER: They have given the Palestinians exactly what they want. Their strategy is to avoid negotiations because in negotiations, you have to actually do a give-and-take. The Palestinians don't want it. They want to internationalize the conflict to put pressure on Israel to take unilateral steps to withdraw and to essentially turn Israel into a pariah state.
SIEGEL: Well, the criticism the other way is that Israel wants to take unilateral steps and wants to preempt any international action by taking what it wants on the West Bank.
DERMER: No, our policy has been very clear from the beginning, that we are prepared to negotiate a resolution to this conflict. And all of those issues should be resolved around the negotiating table.
SIEGEL: But - well, what do you say to someone who's listening to this right now and saying, look, the president of the United States has powers to make foreign policy and to take actions in international bodies? That's not your business. That's just not Israel's business.
DERMER: It's not business - so the life of Israel and the survival of Israel is not my business? And if the president of the United States decides to make a nuclear deal with Iran, a nuclear deal that ultimately paves the path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon that's going to empower them with hundreds of billions of dollars over the next decade to use in their terror war against Israel, that's not Israel's business? Of course it's Israel's business. Of course we're going to make our case.
DERMER: Ultimately, the decision will be of the president of the United States. But we are a sovereign nation with a right to be heard.
SIEGEL: The Obama administration flatly denies that it orchestrated the U.N. Security Council resolution. Are they lying when they say that?
DERMER: It is not true, and hopefully you'll invite me back on your show when all that evidence is presented and through the appropriate channels. And then you can invite me back on your show, and we'll have a discussion about it.
SIEGEL: Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer. Thank you for talking with us.
DERMER: Thank you.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by Verb8tm, Inc., an NPR contractor, and produced using a proprietary transcription process developed with NPR. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.
Posted by SS at December 28, 2016 03:23 PM
Obama and Kerry have proved vengeance against the Jews of Israel. Dermer is right this is a UN which has a Muslim bias and Obama joined in this new form of antisemitism which is anti Israel hatred. No such area as Palestine. No such place as occupied Palestinian land. Made a fool of the USA by their vote! As did the others who were encouraged into such vile antisemitic attack only 70 years after the Holocaust!
Posted by: Jeanette jonas at December 29, 2016 02:56 PM
Do they still hold to the lie Obama Kerry did not orchestrate not simply the abstention but the entire agenda? He has lied by omission, and intent so often to Americans its impossible to know when he is telling the truth.
Al-Qaeda is done, that was a lie.
Morsi is not a member of the Muslim brotherhood he is only a former associate, that was a lie.
We are winning the war against the Islamic State he pronounces ISIL with a lisp because he has difficulty putting Islam and radical in the same sentence.
He lied about the costs of affordable health care.
He drew a line in the sand several times and promised to get Assad out.
Michelle promised to get all those girls back from Bokko Haram. 20 out of over 300 and more than half are dead.
I don't need to or even want to believe Obama ever tells the truth, he's history and that is the Obama legacy.
This month starts a new beginning, and I thank G-d.
Posted by: jeb at January 5, 2017 09:06 PM
Thank you for a valuable, detailed factual article, esp the legal aspects from the early Mandate period.
Seems the UN thinks it can make international law by decree.
Posted by: meron levitats at January 5, 2017 09:37 PM
I totally agree with Ambassador Dermer on his points and I haven't heard the interview at all, however I would not necessarily call this interview hostile as I read it but an excellent exchange in which Robert Siegel brings forth valid and hard hitting questions to challenge Dermer to explain the Israeli position! The Ambassador knocks it out of the park and now I know more about the issue and understand it more than before. Siegel is doing his job and by doing it Israel's position becomes clear for all to judge! I only wish they would similarly take off the gloves when interviewing the Palestinians!
Posted by: len at January 5, 2017 10:19 PM
American taxpayer's money should not be used to pay to propagate one political viewpoint above others.
All funding for NPR should cease immediately.
And where does Siegel get off saying that American policy is none of Israel's business?
You could turn that around and say Israel's policies in regard to the disputed territories are none of America's business.
Posted by: mjazzguitar at January 10, 2017 05:38 PM
Guidelines for posting
This is a moderated blog. We will not post comments that include racism, bigotry, threats, or factually inaccurate material.