Photo: Ofer Amram
Dan Shapiro
Photo: Ofer Amram
Right-wing MKs skeptical, hostile at meeting with US envoy
Coalition and opposition lawmakers tell Dan Shapiro that US had not been supportive of Israel when there were differences of opinion.
"We don't trust you" was the message right-wing MKs had for US Ambassador Dan Shapiro, at a spirited meeting at the Knesset Tuesday with lawmakers to discuss the peace process.



A recording of the meeting obtained by Army Radio reveals angry lawmakers expressing their displeasure at the direction of the current US-led negotiations with the Palestinians.


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"There will be an American document with ideas from both sides, but it has not yet been presented," Shapiro told the MKs. Secretary of State John Kerry has been shuttling between Israeli and Palestinian leaders for months to discuss key elements for a final deal.


Shapiro also hinted that the framework agreement would not be ready by April, the agreed-upon end date for the talks.


But veteran Likud MK Reuven Rivlin accused the Americans of siding with the Palestinians, saying that the US statement of principles could not be viewed as impartial, or document about which Israel could express its reservations. 


"Maybe we will need more time, I hope that it will be possible to extend the initial period (of talks), but the aim is to build a framework agreement so that the sides can move ahead with the negotiations, even if they do have reservations."


According to the ambassador, there is at least one central issue on which President Barack Obama is on the same page as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – the latter's long-standing demand for the Palestinians to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.


"The end to the conflict is an end to all claims and (includes) the mutual recognition of the nation state of the Jewish people and the nation state of the Palestinian people," Shapiro said.


This, however, did not mollify the MKs, who have been openly skeptical of the direction of the talks.


"Why should we believe you?" asked MK David Rotem of Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beiteinu party, "When have you ever seen the US support Israel when there have been differences of opinion?"


In response, Shapiro reminded Rotem that even between good friends there could be differences of opinion. "So why should I trust you?" Rotem shot back.


As the meeting moved on to other subjects, all those present demanded the release of Jonathan Pollard, the American Jewish naval analyst jailed for spying for Israel.



Shapiro said the prison sentence was a judicial and not political issue, an explanation which angered Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck. "You can't use such unintelligent arguments," Struck said. "Ultimately, you can – but know that we aren’t buying it."



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