Ties between Washington and Jerusalem remain strong, but the two administrations need to find a way to communicate better, the US ambassador to Israel told politicians Wednesday night.
The words from Dan Shapiro, thrust into the role of marriage counselor as the US and Israel trade barbs over coordination on dealing with Iran’s nuclear program, were intended to have a calming effect on the two close allies.
“Ties between Israel and the US are very strong, but we need to find new ways to deepen our cooperation, to strengthen our unprecedented coordination and to improve communications, both in public and behind closed doors,” Shapiro said during a pre-holiday gathering at his residence in Herzliya for politicians and other Israeli intelligentsia.
On Thursday, Shapiro told reporters during a tour of Sderot that US and Israeli officials held contacts behind closed doors almost every day and said a phone call between Obama and Netanyahu two days earlier had been “very good.”
“We have the closest relations ever in our security and strategic cooperation,” he said.
The US and Israel have found themselves in a standoff in recent days after Washington rebuffed calls to set clear “red lines” beyond which military action would be taken to stop Iran’s nuclear program.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded by saying the US had no right to keep Israel from taking pre-emptive action if it did not back up Jerusalem. A day later US President Barack Obama said he would not have time to meet with Netanyahu when the Israeli leader is in New York for the United Nations General Assembly later this month.
A White House spokesperson said no meeting had been requested, and a Jerusalem official responded by saying the administration was lying.
The US believes that diplomacy and economic sanctions must be given more time to work on Tehran, while Israel maintains the time for those options has passed.
Shapiro reiterated that the US would stand behind Israel in thwarting Iran’s nuclear plans.
“We won’t let the threat become a reality,” he said.
Shapiro and Netanyahu reportedly had a dustup themselves over the US’s position on Iran last month, with Netanyahu chiding the White House for not doing enough to back Israel up and Shapiro snapping back that Netanyahu was misrepresenting Obama’s stance, according to Yedioth Ahronoth.
On Tuesday, Shapiro marked the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, attacks by thanking Israel for standing behind the US in its “darkest hour.”