State Department has officially appointed former US ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro as the liaison to Israel that will focus, above all,on Iranian activity in the region while coordinating with Israel on the nuclear issue, The Jerusalem Post reports.
Shapiro will work as part of the staff of US Special Envoy to Iran, Robert Malley, spending half of his time in Washington and half in Israel where he’ll work from the US Embassy to increase coordination among the Foreign Ministry, members of the Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s Office and the defense establishment on the Iranian issue in order to establish closer dialogue.
In situation of no negotiations among the US and Iran since the positions of the new Iranian president Ebrahim Raisi froze the previously established indirect negotiations, Israel has shown great concern with PM Bennett stressing in his talks in Washington that they should start, along with the US, working on an alternative plan in case the diplomatic channel stays frozen.
Considering that even President Biden showed readiness to pursue other channels if diplomacy with Iran and the return to the nuclear deal fails, it seems that Shapiro’s role will be more significant since he even advised White House officials ahead of the Biden- Bennett meeting thigh he did not take part in meetings with the Israeli delegation.
Although Shapiro supported backing the nuclear deal, he pointed he’s aware of Israel’s concerns and noted the need of common strategy and intimate dialogue between the two countries as opposed to the public confrontation as was the case in 2015.
It is believed that Shapiro’s more hawkish positions on the Iranian issue will bring Israel and the Gulf states’ perspective to Malley’s office committed to bring Iran experts with diverse opinions to the negotiations team.
Shapiro’s experience in the region would help State Department to consider the regional implications of the negotiations with Iran along with the facilitated coordination with Israel where he served 6 years as US Ambassador and knows many senior members of the Israeli defense establishment.
Shapiro’s reportedly a personal acquaintance with Israeli Prime Minister Bennett, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid and Defense Minister Benny Gantz.