(photo credit: Courtesy of US embassy Israel)
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro avoided inquiries from MKs during a Foreign
Affairs and Defense Committee meeting on Wednesday.
MK Tzipi Hotovely
(Likud) asked Shapiro when Jonathan Pollard would be released from
He responded that he “cannot speculate about Pollard’s
In addition, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) asked Shapiro why
the US consulate in east Jerusalem will not give him a visa to visit the US. The
MK accused the US of putting “an Arab” in charge of granting visas and allowing
Hamas members to enter the US, but not him.
Ben-Ari, the sole member of
the Eretz Yisrael Shelanu party in the National Union faction, is a disciple of
Rabbi Meir Kahane and a former member of the Kach party, which is considered a
terrorist organization by Israel and the US and was banned from the Knesset in
MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) expressed outrage upon hearing Ben-Ari’s
question, saying that a Knesset member should have no problem obtaining a
Shapiro chose not to answer the question, saying only that he is
not involved with the consulate’s work.
“You cannot expect a professional
diplomat to say more than his president says,” MK Arye Eldad (National Union)
pointed out, adding with a grin: “Maybe if [Ben-Ari] behaves himself, he’ll be
allowed to visit America.”
Shapiro also said the US encourages the
continuation of talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in
At the end of the meeting, the US ambassador said he appreciated
the opportunity to meet with Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee members,
emphasizing the close and important relationship between the US and Israel.