Not only are all options “on the table” regarding Iran, but planning is under
way to ensure those other options can be exercised if it becomes necessary, US
Ambassador Dan Shapiro said on Thursday.
Shapiro, speaking to the
Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations in Jerusalem,
said coordination between the US and Israel on Iran was extremely close, and
included not only intelligence sharing and coordination at the political level,
but also cooperation between the militaries to ensure that they have “done the
necessary contingency planning.”
Shapiro spoke to the conference after
President Shimon Peres, reading from a prepared text, told the group that Israel
was a sovereign state with the “right and the capacity to defend herself against
any threat. When we say that all options are on the table, we really mean
Peres denied a Haaretz
report claiming he would tell US President
Barack Obama during a meeting in Washington scheduled for May 4, a day before
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s planned meeting with Obama, that he did not
believe Israel should attack Iran. That story, Peres said, was more imagination
Peres’s comments come as senior officials in the US,
Britain and Russia all publicly entreated Israel this week not to attack
Shapiro, during his address, said Obama has made clear numerous
times that Washington’s goal was to prevent Tehran from acquiring nuclear
The preferred option for achieving that goal was diplomatic and
economic pressures, which were beginning to “bite,” the envoy said. But if this
did not work, “as the president said, and as we are coordinating with our other
partners, all other options are on the table to achieve that goal... and more
than that, the necessary planning is being done to ensure that those options are
actually available, if at any time they become necessary.”
addressed the recent spate of media reports describing divisions between the US
and Israel on Iran, saying that “it is often the case that those who talk don’t
know, and those who know don’t talk. Much of what is written on this topic is
pure speculation and much of it is wrong.”
He praised the level of
coordination between the two countries on Iran, saying that about every other
week cabinet- level officials travel in one direction or the other for meetings
centered on the Islamic Republic.
The visit this week of US National
Security Adviser Tom Donilon was proof of this, Shapiro said. He described those
talks as “very detailed,” and said that “there is no other country in the world,
relationship in the world, where senior leaders invest that kind of time to
ensure that we have total coordination – and we do.”
Ehud Barak is scheduled to travel to Washington next week for a meeting with
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, just days before Peres and Netanyahu arrive for
meetings with Obama.
Touching on other issues, Shapiro said that, as the
American envoy, he took great pride in the success of the Iron Dome anti-missile
system – build with Israeli technology and US funds – that has proven successful
in shooting down rockets fired from the Gaza Strip.
system has “already made a big difference,” and its success rate is “about 75
percent,” the ambassador said.
According to Shapiro, the system has so
far shot down 30 to 40 missiles, and because of its sophisticated radar system
does not shoot down missiles headed for open areas.
Besides saving lives,
he said, the Iron Dome has also created “political space” for Israel’s leaders
by allowing them to decide how and when to respond to rocket attacks, rather
than have their hands forced by a “mass casualty event” that he said would
greatly limit Israel’s options.
Turning to Egypt, Shapiro – in a
reference to the 1979 Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty – said the US was making
clear to Cairo that respect for international treaties and international
obligations was “the highest priority in our relationship with them.”
said that “ensuring that treaty is respected” was critical to the US maintaining
the type of partnership it has, and wants to continue to have, with
Regarding the Palestinian track, Shapiro said the US was
continuing to work “very hard” to help get Israel and the Palestinians into
direct and serious negotiations.
Those talks had to be direct and without
preconditions, and the US “will oppose any effort by the Palestinians to take
this issue back to the United Nations, using the veto where we have to, and
through other means where we don’t have a veto,” he said.
Washington’s policy toward the Hamas-Fatah reconciliation efforts, Shapiro
recommended viewing the announcements of reconciliation with skepticism, since
there had been numerous such pronouncements over the years that had led
“Nothing significant has been done” to implement the agreement
signed recently in Doha, he said.
Shapiro said that the US policy
remained the same: The Palestinian government needs to recognize Israel,
renounce violence and abide by past agreements in order to be considered a
partner for peace. He also said that the US continued to view Hamas as a
“For now we are dealing with the Palestinian Authority
as it is. If that changes, then of course we will have to make a reassessment,”
he said. Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.