Shapiro tells Knesset committee he “cannot speculate about Pollard’s fate,” reiterates US encouragement of continued talks between Israel and Palestinians in Jordan.
By Ho New / Reuters
All options are on the table in dealing with Iran, US Ambassador Dan Shapiro told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Wednesday, echoing statements made by US President Barack Obama the night before in his State of the Union address.
The US envoy, addressing the committee for the first time, said that his country is working “day by day” to intensify sanctions on Iran’s oil sector and central bank.
At the same time, he added in the closed meeting, that the US will still consider all other options.
Shapiro also reiterated that the US encouragescontinuing the current talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority in Jordan. The two sides were set to meet for the fifth time in Amman Wednesday ahead of a January 26 deadline set by the Quartet for restarting direct negotiations. Israel disputes that deadline.
MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) asked Shapiro when Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard would be released from prison. His response was that he “cannot speculate about Pollard’s fate.”
In addition, MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) asked Shapiro why the US consulate in east Jerusalem will not give him a visa to visit the US, implying that it is because of his affiliation with the Kach movement.
MK Meir Sheetrit (Kadima) expressed outrage upon hearing Ben-Ari’s question, saying that Hamas members are allowed in the US, and a Knesset member should have no problem obtaining a visa.
Shapiro, however, chose not to answer the question.
“You can’t expect a professional diplomat to say more than his president says,” MK Arye Eldad (National Union) pointed out, adding with a grin: “Maybe if [Ben-Ari] behaves himself, he’ll be allowed to visit America.”
At the end of the meeting, the US ambassador said he appreciated the opportunity to meet with Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee members, emphasizing the close and important relationship between the US and Israel.
Source Jerusalem Post