shapiro - Natasha Mozgovaya - February 22 2011
Dan Shapiro. Photo by Natasha Mozgovaya
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President Barack Obama has chosen Daniel Shapiro, a senior adviser who has helped shape the United States' response to the Middle East upheaval, as the United States ambassador to Israel, the White House said on Wednesday.

Shapiro, a trusted aide who served as a senior policy adviser on Obama's 2008 presidential campaign, is currently Senior Director for the Middle East and North Africa on the White House National Security Council. He has held this position since January of 2009.

From 2007 to 2008, Shapiro was Vice President of Timmons and Company, and from 2001 to 2007, he served as Deputy Chief of Staff and Legislative Director for U.S. Senator Bill Nelson.

During the Clinton administration, Shapiro served as Director for Legislative Affairs at the National Security Council. From 1995 to 1999, he was a legislative assistant for U.S. Senator Dianne Feinstein, and from 1993 to 1995, he served as a professional staff member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Shapiro holds an M.A. from Harvard University and a B.A. from Brandeis University.

The ambassador position requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

As popular revolts toppled leaders in Egypt and Tunisia and spread to Libya and other countries, Shapiro has been part of a small group of advisers crafting a policy that seeks to protect U.S. interests in the region while also supporting the democratic aspirations of protesters.

Shapiro has worked closely with U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell on the effort to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Direct peace talks resumed briefly last year but broke down after the settlement freeze was lifted in September.

As ambassador, Shapiro is expected to push new diplomatic initiatives between Israel and the Palestinians.

Earlier this week, senior White House adviser Valerie Jarrett reaffirmed the Obama administration's commitment to getting the peace process back on track.

"We know that the status quo in the Arab world is not sustainable, and neither is the status quo in the search for Middle East peace," Jarrett told a conference of the Jewish Council for Public Affairs.

The White House adviser continued, saying "we need to find a way to ensure direct negotiations have credibility and purpose, because that is the only way to resolve the conflict."