(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro, already the third-longest to serve in that position, kept open the possibility Thursday of continuing in the job under the next president as well.
In a Twitter Q&A session, Shapiro was asked whether there was a chance he would serve here under the next administration.
“Every ambassador serves at the will of the president,” said Shapiro, appointed in July 2011 by US President Barack Obama. “So only time will tell.”
Only Walworth Barbour, who served here for 12 years from 1961 to 1973, and Samuel Lewis, US ambassador from 1977 to 1985, served as Washington’s envoy to Israel longer than Shapiro.
Generally, all US political ambassadorial appointees tender their resignation when a new US president is sworn into office, giving that individual the ability to choose new ambassadors. Up until now the conventional wisdom was that Shapiro would terminate his duties here next summer.
Regardless of what the future holds, Shapiro said, “I am sure that whatever position I will hold, I will want to continue to contribute to Israel-US ties, whether in a public or private capacity.”
Shapiro came out strongly against the recent UNESCO resolutions on Jerusalem, saying that Washington “strongly opposed these one-sided, politicized resolutions, which deny facts about Jerusalem.”
As to whether Washington will veto an anti-settlement or anti-Israel resolution in the US Security Council, Shapiro said that America’s policy is to oppose “one-sided resolutions that unfairly criticize or delegitimize Israel.” At the same time, he said it was impossible to predict how the US would react to a resolution “that has not yet been formulated or presented.”
He also gave no indication of what Obama plans to do in the Mideast in the waning months of his presidency.
Among the oft-discussed options are supporting a UN Security Council resolution that would replace UN Security Council Resolution 242 which has underpinned all diplomatic efforts since 1967, or delivering an address laying down what parameters he thinks should be the basis for a future agreements.
“I can’t predict any specific decisions that haven’t been taken yet,” he tweeted.
“But any decision would be motivated by our goal of keeping two states for two peoples alive and viable for the future.”
Asked why Washington has recently sharpened its tone in condemnations of settlement, Shapiro said that the US has for years been consistent in its opposition to settlements, which “harm the chances of an agreement of two states for two peoples.”
Shapiro expanded on this theme in an interview that appeared online on Thursday, saying he was worried about the current situation between Israel and the Palestinians.
“We are worried about the new reality that we see, that perhaps we are moving away from this important goal of two states, and we want to encourage the Israeli government and the PA to take steps that can bring us back to that track,” he said, adding that this will be the next administration’s responsibility, since “there are only three months left” to Obama’s term.
On a lighter note, Shapiro – an ardent Chicago Cubs fan – reveled during the Twitter Q&A in his team’s victory over the Cleveland Indians the night before in the second game of the World Series.
“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again.
This. Is. The. Year. Go Cubs!!!!,” he tweeted.