The United States Ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, told Israeli TV Saturday night that his country will work to restore Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority to power in Gaza after Israel’s current military operation against Hamas is successfully completed.
Appearing on Israel’s popular Saturday night program ‘Channel 2 News‘, Shapiro said “At the end of this conflict, we’ll seek to help the moderate elements among the Palestinians to become stronger in Gaza.” “They might”, he continued, “be able to run Gaza more effectively than Hamas, a terror organization.”
Shapiro was able to evade several attempts by his interviewers to get him to condemn or repudiate the PA’s recent welcome of the Hamas terror group into a national Palestinian Unity government. He did confirm that PA President Abbas, who has been uncharacteristically critical of Hamas’ current war against Israel was actively working with Egypt to produce a lasting ceasefire that could end the conflict.
Shapiro repeated earlier statements from President Obama and others that Israel’s right to self defense in the face of unprovoked rocket attacks upon 80% of its civilian population is sacrosanct. “It’s intolerable”, he said “for any state to have rockets fired at its citizens, or terrorists infiltrating via tunnels,” and the American’s “understand the need for the current ground offensive.”
However, Shapiro immediately appeared to hedge US support for Israeli self defense, by conditioning that support upon limiting civilian casualties. “At the same time,” he said, “we worry about injury, after a further escalation to civilians and trust that Israel will continue its activities in a way that minimizes the harm to civilians.” He added that this is an imperative Israel recognizes.
On the ceasefire front, Ambassador Shapiro again denied that the US was working to produce its own cease fire proposals with parties other than Egypt. He said the US was advising all its regional allies to support the Egyptian initiative. Those questions came in response to reports that the US was working to involve Turkey and Qatar, the two Middle East states other than Iran that openly back the Hamas terror group. Reports that the US was trying to engage supporters of Hamas to produce their own ceasefire proposals that would presumably have offered some strategic advantages to Hamas greatly annoyed not just Israel and Egypt but other moderate Arab states like Saudi Arabia and Jordan.