Dan Shapiro Sworn in as U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Former director of Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council says Israel’s security is his top priority; former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi attends swearing-in ceremony.

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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton swore in Dan Shapiro as the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel on Friday, in a ceremony at the State Department.

Shapiro was until recently the director of the Middle East and North Africa at the National Security Council. Before that he acted as U.S. President Barack Obama's adviser on the Middle East and Jewish community relations during Obama’s presidential campaign.

Dan Shapiro being sworn-in by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at the State Department on July 8, 2011.Credit: Getty Images/AFP

At the ceremony, Clinton said she has every confidence in Shapiro’s ability to represent the country and the Obama Administration, and to help them "write a new chapter in the enduring partnership between United States and Israel.”

Among the guests at the ceremony were Ambassadors of Israel, Turkey and Morocco, the head of the Palestine Liberation Organization diplomatic mission, former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, American Taskforce for Palestine founder Dr. Ziad Assali, other diplomats and Administration officials. Shapiro's wife and three young daughters, Liat, Merav and Shira, were also in attendance.

Clinton spoke of Shapiro’s many merits, saying his talent, insight, hard work and good humor made him a favorite in Washington. ”He is known rightly as a trusted partner and an honest interlocutor,” she added.

On the peace process, Clinton reiterated what Obama described in May as the basis for negotiations, being a secure Israel and a viable Palestine. “By sending one of his closest advisors to be our new ambassador, President Obama is once again demonstrating not only our national commitment, but his personal commitment to the strength of this relationship to Israel’s future, its security, and its success,” she said.

In his first speech on the job, Shapiro said that, for him, being the U.S. ambassador to Israel was more than a job or a cause; “It is a calling and a passion.”

Shapiro said Obama instructed him to make Israel’s security his top priority. “This we are doing by raising the remarkable cooperation and coordination between our militaries and our intelligence services to their highest levels ever,” he said. In addition, he said his job entails safeguarding Israel’s future as a Jewish, democratic state and working to expand the depth and breadth of the bonds between the Israeli and American people, including their “burgeoning economic relationship.”

Shapiro – who is from Champaign, Illinois – first visited Israel as a four-year-old, was here with his parents during the Yom Kippur War and studied at the Hebrew University during the first intifada as part of his Middle Eastern and Jewish studies major. He holds his B.A. from Brandeis University and an M.A. from Harvard.

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