Dan Shapiro to be named US envoy to Israel

Shaprio advised Obama on Middle East issues and coordinated Jewish outreach during the 2008 presidential campaign.

February 23, 2011 01:10
2 minute read.
Dan Shapiro

Dan Shapiro 311 [file]. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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WASHINGTON – Senior White House adviser Dan Shapiro is set to be nominated as the next US ambassador to Israel, Washington sources said on Tuesday.

The sources spoke on condition of anonymity because no formal announcement has been made, though one is expected soon.

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Shapiro, born in 1969, currently serves as the National Security Council’s senior director for the Middle East and North Africa. He has regularly traveled to Israel and worked closely with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell to try to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Shapiro first began working with US President Barack Obama when he coordinated Jewish outreach and advised his presidential campaign on Middle East issues. Shapiro, who speaks fluent Hebrew, has been a major point man for the US Jewish community in the White House, as well as for Israeli and Palestinian officials.

He is not seen as a controversial choice and is not expected to face a major confirmation battle over his background, though many nominations have been held up in the Senate for unrelated reasons and that could complicate his confirmation as well.

Shapiro did not respond to a request for comment.

Both Jewish and Palestinian voices in America praised Shapiro Tuesday.

“Dan’s a great guy, a perfect choice,” said Steve Rabinowitz, who worked with Shapiro in the Clinton White House and attends the same Conservative synagogue as Shapiro does.

“He’s known the issues for many, many years,” Rabinowitz said. “He cares deeply about it, sees all sides, and really, I just don’t know a person in Washington or the region who doesn’t like him.”

“I have tremendous respect for Dan. He’s knowledgeable and he’s sensitive to the issues,” said Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. Hoenlein added, however, that he “would be sorry to seeShapiro] leaving the administration, where he’s played a very important role.”

Ziad Asali, president of the American Task Force on Palestine, welcomed Shapiro serving as US ambassador to Israel, though he stressed that no official announcement had been made and his comments were based only on the possibility that he would be named.

“Dan will make an excellent ambassador. He has a grasp of the complexity of the game and knowledge of all the main players, and is committed to a peaceful resolution to the conflict,” Asali said. “Dan will make an excellent ambassador.”

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