US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro spoke on Thursday at the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference, held in Jerusalem's David Citadel Hotel, where he committed to "keep the hope" of the two-state solution dividing Israel alive.
Shapiro began by talking about the arson of a Jewish-Arab kindergarten, which the Israel Security Agency (ISA) claims was committed by three Lehava anti-assimilation activists but which the organization denies, saying the three were abused and forced into giving a false confession.
Speaking about upcoming general elections slated for March 17, Shapiro said "when the campaign is over the United States looks forward to working closely with the new government chosen by the Israeli people."
As far as the mutual connection goes, he added "other countries I have to say are looking on with some envy as we've transformed what was at one time purely a political and strategic relationship into a powerful engine of economic growth for both of us."
After crediting US President Barack Obama for the "transformation," he noted that next year marks the 30th anniversary of the joint free trade agreement and joint economic development group. In the time since 1985, he remarked there has been an eight-time growth in trade which now stands at over $45 billion a year.
While Shapiro may have touted bilateral ties, those relations have in fact been strained of late, with Israel increasingly growing its military relations with India and economic ties with Japan and China.
Shapiro went on to quote Obama from comments he made in Jerusalem during a visit last year, saying "peace is necessary, peace is just, and most importantly to those who might give in to despair, peace is possible."
He then claimed that during Operation Protective Edge against Hamas in Gaza, Obama "demonstrated unwavering support of Israel's right to defend itself by itself."
In fact there was American condemnation on several occasions during the counter-terrorism operation as Israel struck terror targets embedded in civilian infrastructures, and the height of tensions came when Obama blocked a routine transfer of Hellfire missiles ordering greater scrutiny of future weapons shipments to Israel.
Remarking on the recent spate of lethal terror attacks, Shapiro said "there is never a justification for murder and terror. As we think about the value, though, of continuing to pursue and end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, just think about how much more difficult it would have been...without the safety net of the long-standing Arab-Israeli peace agreements with Egypt and Jordan. Those have provided critical stability and a means to deescalate these tensions."
Jordan has recently urged on terrorism against Israel by honoring terrorists and pushing ahead unilateral Palestinian Authority (PA) moves in the UN to force Israeli concessions; Egypt for its part recently held its largest military maneuver, with an Israeli security expert appraising that it was meant to prepare for a possible war with Israel.
Continuing to speak about peace agreements, Shapiro said direct negotiations between Israel and the PA are needed, slamming the PA's UN initiatives or "settlement activities."
"There is no alternative to the two-state solution," claimed Shapiro, urging "there is no one-state solution." He expressed America's commitment to "keeping the hope" of the two-state solution alive.
Those assertions come in contrast to a recent poll which found rising support among Americans for a one-state solution jumping by 10% in the course of a year to 34%, whereas support for a two-state solution remained at 39%.
When someone in the audience shouted out "what about Pollard," a reference to Jonathan Pollard (60) who has spent an unprecedented 30 years in an American jail on charges of spying for Israel and whose health is failing, Shapiro ignored the statement and continued with his talk.