Israeli ambassador urges US to ‘stay the course’ on pressuring Iran


WASHINGTON (JTA) — Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, urged the United States to “stay the course” and increase pressure on Iran amid reports that the Trump administration is open to diplomatic initiatives with the Islamic Republic.

“What is important now is to stay the course, stand up to Iran’s aggression and continue ratcheting up the pressure until Iran abandons its nuclear ambitions once and for all,” Dermer said Tuesday evening at a pre-Rosh Hashanah reception at the embassy. “Israel looks forward to working with the Trump administration to do just that in the year ahead.”

Dermer otherwise lavishly praised President Donald Trump for his increased sanctions on Iran as well as for other moves, including moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

But his remarks came the day Trump ousted his national security adviser, John Bolton, for among other reasons opposing Trump’s openness to diplomatic engagement with Iran. Bloomberg on Wednesday reported that Bolton forcefully opposed a plan recently to reduce sanctions on Iran as a means of setting up a meeting later this month between Trump and the Iranian president, Hassan Rouhani.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to whom Dermer is close, opposes meetings between Trump and Iran’s leaders, seeing them as a win for Iran without having to give up anything.

Dermer did not mention Bolton’s departure except to joke that it was a “boring” news day.

Dermer also singled out for praise Trump’s outgoing top Middle East peace envoy, Jason Greenblatt, and Greenblatt’s deputy Avi Berkowitz. Both were present.

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