The recent rift between President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu has become more contentious lately and by all appearances, will only grow wider. Netanyahu seems determined defy Obama and speak in front of congress. Standing alongside Netanyahu is the Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer, and he is drawing as much fire from the White House and Bibi’s critics as his boss.

For perhaps the first time, Israel has become a strongly partisan issue in Washington. An axiom that has rung true in American politics since the Liberty Bell cracked is that Jews vote Democrat. In the 2012 election, the Republicans tried to wrest the Jewish vote away from Obama by claiming that his administration did not support Israel.  Those efforts failed, but Congress is strongly divided and with his State of the Union Address, the president set out his battle lines on the issue of sanctions against Iran.

The Israeli ambassador has been walking through this minefield since he was appointed in July 2013. This speech will place Bibi firmly in the crossfire between Democrats and Republicans, on Capitol Hill. There are many who are angered by a foreign leader pushing his way into the middle of what most consider to be a strictly Washington affair. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace, normally a strong advocate of Israel and Netanyahu, said that he was offended by the way the Israeli prime minister inserted himself into a domestic debate between the White House and Congress over America’s Iran policy and called it “wicked”. Netanyahu’s speech could be construed as foreign meddling, with Bibi taking the side of Obama’s opponents. Given Bibi’s blatant support of Mitt Romney in the last US election, it could hardly be the first time that Bibi could be accused of this.

The White House is blaming the Israeli Ambassador for the recent blowout with Israel, according to the NY Times. John Boehner extended the invitation to Netanyahu via Dermer, so he is certainly involved and if blame is to be allocated, he deserves a share. An unnamed White House official blamed Dermer for putting Netanyahu’s personal political fortunes above the relationship between the United States and Israel.  This claim sounds convincing since Dermer is considered to be one of Netanyahu’s closest advisers. At the very least, he has been accused of a breach of protocol, by facilitating his Prime Minister’s visit without going through or even informing the White house.

When Mr. Boehner extended the invitation, Mr. Dermer relayed the invitation to Mr. Netanyahu. He did not contact the White House. In a subsequent meeting with John Kerry, Dermer still did not raise the issue of Netanyahu’s speech in front of congress.

White House has called the invitation a breach of diplomatic protocol and announced that Mr. Obama would not meet with Mr. Netanyahu when he visits. In addition, they maintain that the decision not to meet with Netanyahu was due to a policy of not meeting with world leaders close to their elections. This is to avoid the appearance of influence. That policy has been ignored in the past, including one meeting between Clinton and Shimon Peres just before he ran against Netanyahu during which an anti-terror agreement was signed, to much fanfare.

Dermer responded to these issues:

“I have no regrets whatsoever that I have acted in a way to advance my country’s interests. My understanding was that it was the speaker’s prerogative to do, and that he would be the one to inform the administration. The prime minister feels very strongly that he has to speak on this issue. That’s why he accepted the invitation, not to wade into your political debate or make this a partisan issue, and not to be disrespectful to the president.”

This conflict brings into question Mr. Dermer’s performance of his duties.

“He’s a political operative, he’s not really an ambassador,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former United States ambassador to Israel. “What he did was totally unacceptable from a standpoint of diplomacy. To think about going behind the back of a friendly country’s administration and working out this kind of arrangement with the parliament or the Congress — it’s unheard-of.”

Mr. Kurtzer said while it was unlikely the Obama administration would take the extraordinary step of declaring Mr. Dermer “persona non grata” — the official method for a foreign diplomat to be ousted from a country — it could request that Mr. Dermer by reprimanded or removed.

Jeremy Ben-Ami, the executive director of J Street, a Democratic-aligned pro-Israel group agrees with that assessment. “To be an ambassador, you need to be a representative of your country to the entirety of the other country, and that has not been his role to date.”

There are those who disagree and feel that ron Dermer has performed his duties well.

“He’s more direct than they are, he’s less judicious with his words, but he makes it up with principle,” said Mr. Luntz, who taught Mr. Dermer at the University of Pennsylvania before hiring him in 1993. “He’s got tremendous courage and he’s prepared to take a principled risk. I don’t know anyone who is as focused on a specific goal and is prepared to walk through brick walls to get there.”

Matt Brooks, the executive director of the Republican Jewish Coalition, agrees. “He’s been extremely strong and successful at his most important tasks, which are to represent Israel’s interests and defend Mr. Netanyahu’s prerogatives at a critical time for Israel’s security. This administration has repeatedly sought to both undermine and embarrass this prime minister, and the same Democrats who now profess to be so outraged by this have been notably silent. When the dust settles on this — and the dust will settle — I think that he’ll continue to be effective”