Dan Shapiro, the former US ambassador to Israel, says President Donald Trump is serious about trying to achieve the “ultimate deal” of peace between Israel and the Palestinians, and that the sides may find him hard to resist.

“It’s very difficult for any party in the region, after those early positive interactions, to say no to him. He has established friendly relations; each sides wants to do more to deepen those positive relations with him,” Shapiro said.

The former ambassador will explain why the time might be right to renew the peace process in a public interview with The Times of Israel editor-in-chief David Horovitz live on stage at the Jerusalem Cinematheque on Sunday, July 2. (Tickets are available HERE.)

Shapiro served as ambassador under the Obama administration from 2011 to 2017, a period which saw two wars in Gaza and the year-long, ultimately abortive peace mission spearheaded by former secretary of state John Kerry. He was Washington’s point-man as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hosted presidential contender Mitt Romney before the 2012 US election, and when Netanyahu delivered his famous speech to Congress in 2015 in an effort to block the nuclear deal with Iran.

He was also a guiding force behind the landmark 10-year $38 billion US-Israel assistance deal agreed in 2016, the largest aid package in US history.

In January, Shapiro and his family vacated the Tel Aviv embassy and their sprawling ambassadorial mansion perched on the Herzliya beachfront after Trump ordered all politically appointed ambassadors to leave their positions.

Julie Fisher, Dan Shapiro and their daughters celebrate the Chicago Cubs' Wold Series win, November 2016. (Courtesy)

Julie Fisher, Dan Shapiro and their daughters celebrate the Chicago Cubs’ Wold Series win, November 2016. (Courtesy)

But instead of heading home to the States, Shapiro and his wife, Julie Fisher, decided to remain so their three daughters could finish school. They plan to stay for another year.

“Being ambassador was a job I loved, and our family enjoyed and valued that experience and that honor that we had to represent our country to a country that we love,” he said. “We’ve always enjoyed experiencing Israel as much as we could as a normal family, and now we really can. Now we have more ability to act just as any family, there’s more spontaneity, a little bit more privacy and we’re enjoying that time we’re spending here very much.”

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro (center) reviews projects at the Gaia Symposium, February 25, 2016 (Amir Ezer)

US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro (center) reviews projects at the Gaia Symposium, February 25, 2016 (Amir Ezer)

Shapiro, who used to teach at Georgetown University School of Foreign Service, is now a fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Institute for National Security Studies. His commentary on current Middle East diplomacy appears regularly in The Atlantic and Foreign Policy magazine.

As soon as he stepped down from his official role, Shapiro shed some of his diplomatic neutrality, taking to Twitter to deliver some sharp criticisms of Trump.

Responding to the news that Trump had completed 10 percent of his term, Shapiro tweeted: “Oh my God, I’m so tired.”

He has accused the administration of a “meat-axe approach” to managing the State Department.

And he has weighed in on the ongoing crisis in the Gulf, and what the isolation of Qatar could mean for the 10,000 US troops stationed there.

But while he has doubts about the style and strategy of the new administration, he applauds “the opportunity that’s been created for some progress on the Israeli-Palestinian peace front and on the broader Israeli-Arab dynamic by President Trump’s early meetings and forays into the region. It’s created leverage for him to put his own ideas on the table.”

Shapiro is closely monitoring developments in Syria, and the danger posed by the growing influence of Iran.

“In Syria the new complications are in the first instance a result of the success of the counter-Islamic State campaign, because as IS shrinks and the territory it controls crumbles, there’s now a race on to take control of the areas they are vacating,” he said.

“It raises very serious questions about whether the administration has done any serious planning or developing of its own strategy for what the end state it is seeking to achieve, what resources including troops it’s prepared to commit, how long this campaign would continue, what our exit strategy is,” said Shapiro.

Horovitz will ask Shapiro for his unique perspective on the challenges facing Israel and America in the Middle East, the future of Israel-US relations, and much, much more.

Join us for another unforgettable evening on Sunday, July 2, at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. There are limited places, so reserve early to ensure a seat.

Sunday, July 2: DAN SHAPIRO
Interviewed by David Horovitz
8:00 p.m. Jerusalem Cinematheque
Tickets NIS 50 HERE
(NIS 60 at door, cash only)
In association with Nefesh B’Nefesh

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