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Is the US giving up on Israel?

The unusually sharp tone of US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro's criticisms of Israeli policies toward the Palestinians has many wondering what it means for the future.

In Tel Aviv at the Jan. 18 opening of the annual INSS Strategic Assessment for Israel, US Ambassador Daniel Shapiro let loose, without warning, on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his government. “Too much Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes on unchecked,” he said. “At times, there seem to be two standards of adherence to the rule of law [in the West Bank]: one for Israelis and another for Palestinians.”

Shapiro is a peace-loving ambassador. The 4½ years of his term in office coincided with some of the most exhausting years of Israeli-US relations, yet despite the difficulties, Shapiro succeeded in positioning himself as an island of stability in the stormy seas separating Netanyahu and President Barack Obama. Shapiro often lauded the US-Israeli relationship and protected it with his very body even in the worst of times: the “chickenshit” days (to invoke an Obama adviser's epithet for Netanyahu), the lecture” Netanyahu gave Obama in the Oval Office and Obama’s “snub” of Netanyahu at the White House. Even during the lowest of the low points, when Netanyahu slinked his way into Congress to speak against presidential policy and the nuclear agreement with Iran without coordinating with the White House, Shapiro was there, and with the last of his strength, tried to mend the fences.

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