JERUSALEM (AFP) – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named as Israel's new ambassador to Washington Tuesday a peace process hawk seen as close to President Barack Obama's Republican opponents.
Ron Dermer, who already served a stint in Washington as economic attache from 2005 to 2008, is on the record as voicing scepticism about the wisdom of a two-state solution to the Palestinian problem.
According to US diplomatic cables leaked to WikiLeaks, he is also convinced that Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas is not a partner for peace.
Announcing his appointment, Netanyahu said: "Ron Dermer has all the qualities necessary to successfully fill this important post.
"I have known him for many years and I know that Ron will faithfully represent the state of Israel in the capital of our greatest ally -- the USA," he added.
His appointment comes as Obama's administration steps up its efforts to broker a relaunch of direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians after a three year gap.
US Secretary of State John Kerry has made five visits to the region since he took office earlier this year.
Israel's left-leaning daily Haaretz commented that Dermer's views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict were "far more extreme than Netanyahu's" and had sparked "shock" among US as well as European officials.
The paper recalled that Dermer had once told reporters: "The principle of two states for two peoples is a childish solution to a complicated problem."
The paper said Dermer's links with the Republicans added to the "suspicion" felt towards him by the Obama administration.
"He is identified there as a supporter of the Republican party," it said.
"His family in Miami Beach have close ties with the Bush family, particularly with former Florida Governor Jeb Bush.
"Many Democrats also see Dermer as the brains behind Netanyahu's support for Mitt Romney," Obama's unsuccessful Republican challenger for the presidency last year.
Dermer, 42, is married and the father of five children. He is a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Business and holds a master's degree in philosophy, politics and economics from Oxford.