US envoy Shapiro: Difficult to fight boycott of Israel while peace process frozen

After French telecom giant says it is interested in cutting Israeli ties, US envoy says peace talks are best tool to fight BDS.

Boycott Israel sign (photo credit: REUTERS)
Boycott Israel sign
(photo credit: REUTERS)
US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said Thursday that while the United States opposes all efforts to impose boycotts on Israel or delegitimize the Jewish State, the job of fighting such efforts is made much more difficult by the current stagnation in the peace process.
Shapiro made the comments in interviews with both Israel Radio and Army Radio a day after Stephane Richard, the chairman and CEO of French telecom operator Orange, told reporters in Cairo that his company wished to distance itself from its role in facilitating Israel’s rule over the Palestinian territories.
"We staunchly oppose any effort to delegitimize or boycott or sanction Israel. We will never support this. We will fight together with Israel against all these efforts," Shapiro told Army Radio.
He added, however, that "we are in a period without negotiations and there is not even a possibility of launching negotiations in the near future. Negotiations have always been the most effective tool to defeat all of these efforts. This is also the best way to advance toward a solution of two states for two peoples."
Orange, which has an affiliate agreement with the Israeli firm Partner, is one of Israel’s largest cellular service providers.
Human rights organizations in France have been pressuring Orange to cease its business operations in Israel in protest of Jerusalem’s policies in the West Bank.
“Believe me I would cancel the contract tomorrow if I could,” Orange CEO Richard said Wednesday. He added, however, that the language of Orange's contract with its Israeli operator precludes it from pulling out.
Shapiro said Thursday that "if there are no negotiations now, and most of the world does not believe that there will be any time soon, how can we still, first of all, fight against boycotts and sanctions and delegitimization, and how can we preserve the two- state solution as a realistic option?"
He said that "in the past I know that when we held negotiations together with the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority it was the most effective tool to tell other states and private companies, 'Don't impose these proposals because you will interrupt the efforts to arrive at a solution.' Now we don't have the ability to say this."
Shapiro clarified to Israel Radio, however, that the United States would continue to fight BDS efforts against Israel and one-sided criticism of Israel in the United Nations.
"We will not recognize premature recognition of a Palestinian state that doesn't yet exist," Shapiro said, adding, however, that the US requires actions and policies from both sides which show they support a two-state solution.