Shapiro: Economy won’t affect US's Israel obligations

New American envoy says commitment to Israel’s security “has been consistent through many ups and downs of our own economy."

August 10, 2011 03:17
3 minute read.
US envoy Shapiro visits "Iron Dome" Battery

Shapiro 311. (photo credit: YouTube screenshot)


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New US envoy Dan Shapiro expressed confidence Tuesday that despite the difficult economic climate in the US, Washington’s financial commitments to Israel’s security will continue.

Shapiro, on a tour of an Iron Dome battery near Ashkelon, said America’s commitment to Israel’s security “has been consistent through many ups and downs of our own economy.”

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The ambassador pointed out that even during the very difficult budget environment this year, US President Barack Obama and the Congress “were united in providing the full funding of Israel’s annual military systems package, as well as the additional $200 million represented in the Iron Dome Program. So, I have a lot of confidence that our commitments will continue.”

Shapiro said that the US’s commitment to Israel’s security was “iron-clad,” and said that “one of the most important examples of that commitment is in our cooperation on missile defense technology.”

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Shapiro, a close Obama confidant who is expected to do his utmost to improve the perception of Obama in Israel, said that after Obama visited Sderot during the 2008 presidential campaign he “promised that the United States would continue to support Israel every way that’s necessary, and every way that’s possible in defending itself against the threat it faces.”

Shapiro termed the Iron Dome “an incredible accomplishment of Israeli ingenuity,” and said the US was “pleased to be continuing to accelerate its development and deployment to protect even greater portions of the Israeli people.”

Regarding the diplomatic process, Shapiro said the US was continuing to work with Israel, the Palestinian Authority and the Quartet to “try to devise a formula that would allow the resumption of direct negotiations.”

Obama, Shapiro said, “offered his proposals for some principles that could be foundations for those negotiations in his May 19th speech. We are continuing to work on the basis of those with both sides.

And we’re hopeful, although not certain, that we’ll be able to prevent a confrontation at the United Nations in September.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week in the Knesset that Israel and the US were working on a written document spelling out the parameters for returning to negotiations with the Palestinians that would be based on the speech Obama gave at AIPAC on May 22, spelling out in greater detail what he meant by saying in his May 19 speech at the State Department that an agreement should be based on a return to the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps.

Netanyahu told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that “we are interacting with the US to put together a document [for an agreement with the Palestinians] using language from Obama’s second speech [the AIPAC speech].”

In the AIPAC speech Obama said the parties “will negotiate a border that is different than the one that existed on June 4, 1967. It is a well known formula to all who have worked on this issue for a generation.

It allows the parties themselves to account for the changes that have taken place over the last 44 years, including the new demographic realities on the ground and the needs of both sides. The ultimate goal is two states for two peoples. Israel as a Jewish state and the homeland for the Jewish people, and the state of Palestine as the homeland for the Palestinian people; each state enjoying self-determination, mutual recognition and peace.” Israeli officials have said Jerusalem would agree to language in the framework that would reflect the ideas of Obama’s two speeches.

Jerusalem, while not endorsing the 1967 lines, would agree to language that would say that Israel recognizes that this is the position of the international community.

Shapiro reiterated Washington’s opposition to the Palestinian bid for statehood recognition at the UN in September, saying “We don’t support any unilateral attempt to try to solve this conflict through the United Nations. It can only be resolved through direct negotiations.”

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