Former US envoy to Israel to join Tel Aviv-based think tank
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Former US envoy to Israel to join Tel Aviv-based think tank

Obama-era ambassador, Dan Shapiro, announced as visiting fellow at Institute for National Security Studies

Then US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro seen at a farewell session in the Knesset, on January 17, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Then US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro seen at a farewell session in the Knesset, on January 17, 2017. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro will join the Institute for National Security studies as a visiting fellow, the Tel Aviv-based think tank announced on Sunday.

Shapiro, who served as the American ambassador to Israel from 2011 to 2017 under then-president Barack Obama, said in a statement released by the think tank that he was “proud to join the skilled team” at INSS, and described the institute as “presenting the best research and diplomatic analysis in Israel.”

INSS cited Shapiro’s “rich experience” working on issues pertaining to Israel and the Middle East in its decision to hire him, pointing not only to his work as ambassador, but also as a member of the US National Security Council and an adviser on foreign affairs to Congress.

The think tank said that Shapiro’s research will focus on a number of areas, namely Israel-US relations, Israel’s ties with the American Jewish community, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the Arab world, among other subjects.

INSS head and former IDF general Amos Yadlin praised the hiring of Shapiro, writing on Twitter that it “constitutes a significant strengthening of the public discourse” in Israel, while also praising the former envoy for his “rich experience” and “successful tenure” as the American ambassador to Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro in April 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (left) with US Ambassador Dan Shapiro in April 2013. (photo credit: Flash90)

Though he finished his role as US ambassador to Israel in January, on the eve of US President Donald Trump’s inauguration, Shapiro said he will remain in Israel in order to allow his three daughters to finish their schooling.

Since stepping down as the US envoy, Shapiro has become an avid commentator on issues pertaining to Israel and Israel-US relations, with his posts on Twitter earning him a large following from local pundits and reporters due to his front-row view of the relationship between the two countries over the past six years.

In an article last month for Foreign Policy magazine, Shapiro offered tepid support for Trump’s campaign pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem despite formerly opposing the move, advising the US president that if “done carefully, it could advance American national goals and interests,” but if “done carelessly, it could cause them grave harm and lead to preventable tragedy.”

Israelis waiting for US visas line up at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: AP/Eitan Hess-Ashkenazi/File)
Israelis waiting for US visas line up at the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. (photo credit: AP/Eitan Hess-Ashkenazi/File)

Shapiro’s term as ambassador was marked in large part by tensions between Israel and the US, with the two countries notably clashing over details of the Israel-Palestinian peace process and the 2015 Iran nuclear deal which was negotiated in large part by the US.

In one of Shapiro’s last meetings with Israeli officials as ambassador, he was summoned — along with a host of other envoys to Israel — for a personal dressing-down by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the wake of a UN Security Council Resolution slamming Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, which the US allowed to pass by choosing to withhold its veto. The move infuriated Israel, which accused Washington of orchestrating and advancing the resolution, a charge the White House denied.

US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in the Knesset on January 17, 2017 (Knesset spokesperson's office/Yitzhak Harari)
US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro and Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein in the Knesset on January 17, 2017 (Knesset spokesperson’s office/Yitzhak Harari)

Despite the disagreements between the countries, Shapiro was hailed by a number of Israeli lawmakers at a farewell event in January, with Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein describing him as an “anchor” in a frequently rocky relationship between Washington and Jerusalem.

Shapiro told the Israeli lawmakers that when the history books are written, it will be clear that “the ties between Washington and Israel grew stronger in the past years,” Israel Radio reported at the time.

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