OTR Interviews

What can repair the US-Israel rift?

A chilly relationship between the Obama administration and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu became even chillier because of the address before Congress. Is it beyond repair?

 

This is a rush transcript from "On the Record," March 5, 2015. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

GRETA VAN SUSTEREN, FOX NEWS HOST: Did Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's speech to congress deepen the rift between Israel and the U.S? The prime minister warning America against a bad nuclear deal with Iran.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

BENJAMIN NETANYAHU, ISRAEL PRIME MINISTER: The greatest danger facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons. To defeat ISIS and let Iran get nuclear weapons would be to win the battle, but lose the war. We can't let that happen.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

VAN SUSTEREN: And Israeli Ambassador Ron Dermer joins us. Nice to see you, sir.

RON DERMER, ISRAELI AMBASSADOR TO THE UNITED STATES: Good to be with you.

VAN SUSTEREN: In the past, Prime Minister Netanyahu has said that he wants Iran -- he always wants it, but that the world cannot live with Iran having any ability to enrich any uranium. Is that still the position? Zero enrichment capability?

DERMER: Israel's position is that Iran doesn't need tone rich uranium because you don't need that for peaceful nuclear program. There are 17 countries around the world that peaceful nuclear energy. They don't enrich uranium. What Netanyahu was saying in the speech, he was speaking to the leading powers of the world, who are now negotiating an agreement that can have a huge impact on the future of Israel, on our security and maybe even threaten our survival. And what he was telling them it so do two things Ford to get a better deal, to increase the breakout talent, which the time to get the fissile material essentially the fuel for a bomb, to make that much longer than a year that they are talking about now.

And the second thing which is really new what the prime minister said is don't allow all the restrictions on Iran's nuclear program to run out automatically in 10 years. Determine whether or not Iran has changed it behavior. If they stop their aggression in the region, if they stop their terror around the world and stop threatening to annihilate Israel, they you can remove the restrictions. But if not, don't remove those restrictions. If Iran wants to be a normal country, let them act like a normal country.

VAN SUSTEREN: Those two messages, do you know if they were received or welcomed by the President of the United States? Any reaction to those two messages?

DERMER: Well, you heard what the president said. You also heard.

VAN SUSTEREN: He said there was nothing new.

DERMER: Well, I think that was definitely new what the prime minister said about this linkage because what we're very concerned about is the deal that is being negotiated now would not block Iran's path to the bomb. It would actually pave it because it would mean in about a decade, all of the restrictions beyond restrictions of a normal (NPT) country, all of those restrictions would actually be removed. And then you will have Iran basically having the nuclear capability that Japan has today which is a massive nuclear infrastructure. The problem is Iran would have a regime that would look more like the regime that Japan had 70 years ago. That's the danger.

VAN SUSTEREN: I think there is some deal out there because Secretary Kerry is going to a bunch of foreign characters in the Middle East right now. I don't know what the deal is, but I assume Israel is aware of the deal. Is that a deal Israel can live with?

DERMER: No, not if it has these two concessions.

VAN SUSTEREN: Then what happens?

DERMER: Look, Israel always reserves the right to defend itself. I think the prime minister made that very clear. What he was hoping to do before the deal was signed was to appeal to the American people and to the American congress to let them know what would be acceptable and what would not be acceptable. He said there may be a deal that Israel doesn't like, but which we could live with. The deal that's on the table right now, if there is not a change, it's not a deal that Israel can accept.

VAN SUSTEREN: And any reaction from the president from the White House after the speech?

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: Not what we heard publicly.

DERMER: I hope that they will take the prime minister's idea seriously, because we have the most to lose if you don't -- Israel has the most to lose.

(CROSSTALK)

VAN SUSTEREN: I think the world has the most to lose.

(CROSSTALK)

DERMER: It's not Israel. It's the region, it's the world. I will tell you something else. When Israelis and Arabs are on the same page, people should pay attention. That doesn't happen too often.

VAN SUSTEREN: Ambassador, thank you, sir. Thank you for being so patient tonight. We have had a lot of breaking news. Thank you, sir.

DERMER: Thank you.