By ISRAEL HAYOM—
U.S. President Barack Obama sent a clear and sharp message to Israel on Tuesday: I will not give up on peace negotiations with the Palestinians, even during the final two years of my presidency. U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro issued the message during a speech at Bar-Ilan University’s Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on Tuesday.
“There is no other solution” other than two states for two peoples, Shapiro said. The American ambassador chose to say his words on the same stage where in 2009 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu committed to Israeli recognition of the solution of a Palestinian state alongside Israel.
According to Shapiro, “The main reason we remain committed to achieving a two-state solution is that we see no alternative that would achieve Israelis’ and Palestinians’ legitimate goals.”
Shapiro said the Obama administration was dedicated to the peace process and “committed to keeping that hope alive,” despite Obama’s weakness in the House of Representatives and Senate.
“Israelis follow American politics closely, whether during midterm or presidential elections,” Shapiro said. “Since our midterms last month, much ink has been spilled about what the results mean for the next two years. Here is a caution, lest anyone jump to conclusions: divided government, in which one party controls Congress and the other the Executive Branch, does not necessarily mean foreign policy gridlock.
“What is unmistakable about our foreign policy system is that the constitution provides the president with the largest share of power. Congress plays a critical role, but history shows that, whether faced with domestic political gridlock or not, presidents often surge and engage even more intensively in national security affairs in their final years in office.”
Meanwhile, according to an Army Radio report, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told yeshiva students in Gush Etzion on Tuesday that the Obama administration “will not last forever.”
Asked by a student about Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria, Ya’alon replied, “I really want to approve the plans and build more, but now this draws a response first of all from the Americans, and later threats from others. Therefore, we are very, very careful not to stretch the rope too much. I hope this is temporary, as there is now a certain government in the U.S., and the U.S. leads this line. This government will not last forever.”
In response to the Army Radio report, a Ya’alon associate said the Israeli and U.S. defense establishments had ties “unprecedented in depth and scope.”
Yet, “there are several disagreements between the countries on various matters, but this does not diminish in any way the appreciation and esteem Minister Ya’alon has for the contribution of the U.S. and its government to the security of Israel and the fact that the U.S. is Israel’s best friend and strategic anchor.”