Israel's ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, distanced himself and Israel Monday from a statement by Republican presidential candidate Mike Huckabee, who said that US President Barack Obama will "take the Israelis and march them to the door of the oven" by means of the nuclear agreement reached with Iran.
In a US News and World Report interview, Dermer said: "These are not words that I would use or that I think are appropriate."
"Look," he explained, "we have a very serious disagreement with the administration on a very serious issue. But what I don't doubt is the sincerity of the president or his team when they say they believe this deal not only makes America safe but makes Israel safe. Where we disagree is the judgment of actually what this deal is going to do."
In an interview Saturday, Huckabee had called the Iran deal "idiotic." Obama, traveling in Africa, characterized Huckabee's comments as "ridiculous" and "sad," but the former Arkansas governor and Fox News host refused to back down. "What's ridiculous and sad is that President Obama does not take the Iran threats seriously," he fired back Monday.
"We don't in any way impugn the motives of the people who are doing this deal," Dermer told USA Today's video newsmaker series. "I think it's important to conduct this debate in a way that's befitting of the alliance between our two countries."
In the interview, Dermer said he had met with dozens of congressional Democrats because "I think ultimately they may decide whether this deal goes through or doesn't go through." Dermer said he believes a majority of Congress is currently against the deal, but "I just don't know" whether opponents have enough votes to override a presidential veto.