The United States likely will focus on avoiding despair rather than achieving comprehensive Israeli-Palestinian peace for the final 14 months of the Obama administration, Ambassador Dan Shapiro said Sunday, Nov. 8, at the General Assembly of the Jewish Federations of North America.
Shapiro, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, spoke three days after the administration acknowledged having no expectation of a final settlement under President Barack Obama despite major peace efforts in his first term under former Sen. George Mitchell and in his second term under Secretary of State John Kerry.
Obama is unwilling to devote much of his remaining time to peace efforts, and Shapiro said no trust exists between Palestinian and Israeli leaders. Plus, the Palestinian Authority is in limbo until the succession to President Mahmoud Abbas, in the 11th year of his four-year term, is arranged.
The current wave of Palestinian terrorism is as much an expression of frustration at Abbas as at Israel, said Laura Blumenfeld, a Middle East analyst at Johns Hopkins who was part of the State Department’s peacemaking team in 2013-14.
She called the current U.S. approach “cryo-diplomacy”: freezing the situation so it’s no worse for the next president.
The goal, Shapiro said, is to avoid further decay in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship. Israelis and Palestinians must figure out what steps they can take to rebuild trust on the ground, he said.
“The most dangerous outcome is despair and the conclusion that there will never be a two-state solution,” Shapiro said.
David Makovsky, a Washington Institute for Near East Policy fellow who worked with Blumenfeld in 2013-14, said the United States needs to stop swinging for the home run of a final-status agreement and should instead try to put together a few singles and doubles to work toward a two-state solution.