(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST,MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
“Peace is necessary, peace is just and peace is possible.”
So said US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro at the Israel Bar Association Conference in Eilat on Monday.
“Even where politics on both sides make negotiations unlikely,” there is still a need to “find ways to remind both sides of that truth,” he added.
Shapiro also discussed the dispute between Israel and the US on nuclear negotiations with Iran, saying that even where the two sides disagree about the tactics, “we share the same goal that Iran never get a nuclear weapon.”
Further, Shapiro came out strong against recent attempts by the Palestinian Authority to join the International Criminal Court.
The US opposes the PA move and will “use all tools at its disposal to combat delegitimization against Israel,” he said, adding that it also is against “unilateral moves from any side,” including moves by Israel to increase the settlements.
Following his speech, Shapiro discussed the Obama administration’s war on terror with The Jerusalem Post, responding to comments from former US Congress House Intelligence Committee head Peter Hoekstra’s (now a top lawyer at Greenberg Traurig LLP) late Sunday at the conference that the Obama administration has not fought terror with a policy that spoke to both parties, implying it did not have the right formula.
Obama has “always been clear that terrorists” in countries around the world “are fair game” with no ability to escape being attacked merely by crossing national borders, Shapiro said, adding that Obama’s use of drones had been strong and effective.
He also cited Obama’s building of a coalition against Islamic State, including air strikes and the recent targeted use of ground troops.
Hoekstra had said the US was still deeply divided about how to confront global terror even some 14 years after the September 11, 2001, attacks, and also appeared to criticize Obama’s stated policy in 2009 of closing the Guantanamo Bay prison, citing the facts that more than 150 detainees remained and Congress’s continued firm opposition as proof Obama has not tried to stake out positions that could achieve consensus.
He also said he disagreed with the US Senate “Torture” report, which heavily criticized the Bush administration’s use of enhanced interrogation techniques and with Obama’s adoption of the report.
Hoekstra indicated that he supports enhanced interrogation in some circumstances, as well as controversial programs run by the National Security Agency to collect information from emails to track and stop terrorists, which the US President has said go too far.
Obama’s policy is to use “the strongest measure of tools to pursue and fight terrorists,” while at the same time respecting US citizens’ liberties, Shapiro said.
Asked by another media outlet about the “reassessment” of relations with Israel, Shapiro clarified that this would not impact security and defense cooperation or even the United States’ defense of attempts to delegitimize Israel on the diplomatic scene.
Rather, it was more a question of how to keep the twostate solution alive in lieu of a concrete negotiation process.