Ambassador Michael Oren, in an interview with Haaretz last week, spoke about his role as ambassador, his appreciation of President Obama as a true friend of Israel, the Iranian nuclear program, and the ongoing efforts to resume peace negotiations:
On the American support for Israel:
“The rate of American support for Israel is currently at an all-time high. There hasn’t been this much sympathy for Israel since the First Gulf War. Most Americans view Israel as an important ally, and some would even be willing to send military forces to defend it."
On his service as an Ambassador:
"I am an Israeli. I served in the army for 30 years – in compulsory service and as a reservist. And although here I put on a suit every morning, to me, this suit is my uniform. What I did in America was four and a half years of reserve duty. I did my best in this reserve duty in my dealings with the administration and with the American public, and I’m proud of what I achieved. But now this period of reserve duty is ending. My wife Sally and I are packing up the uniforms and returning home.”
On the efforts to stop the Iranian nuclear program:
“In the campaign against Iran, there is a historic achievement: the sanctions. The prime minister deserves a huge amount of credit for this. A hundred years from now they’ll write about how the leader of a tiny country in the Middle East managed to spearhead a vast worldwide move. He was like the drop of water that moves the iceberg. His success here is tremendous. But this success is not sufficient. There can be no resting on laurels. The Iranian nuclear program is progressing, growing stronger and expanding. The Iranians are currently installing 3,000 advanced centrifuges that can increase their enrichment capacity five times over. Consequently, the Iranians’ breakthrough to a nuclear weapon will be a matter of weeks and not months, and as Prime Minister Netanyahu said at the UN, the question is not when Iran will obtain a nuclear weapon but when it will no longer be possible to prevent it from obtaining nuclear weapons. That moment is quickly approaching.”
“As prime minister of a sovereign state, Netanyahu has the responsibility to defend the country. When the country is a Jewish state with a painful and tragic history – the responsibility is even greater and heavier. Israel has a supreme interest in reaching a diplomatic solution just as Eshkol tried to do in May 1967. But one mustn’t flee from the responsibility that conferred by both our history and our sovereignty. Defending Israel is not an option – it’s a duty.”
On PM Netnayahu's commitment to the peace process:
"Netanyahu is serious. In regard to peace, the prime minister is serious. He really does want to enter talks, and he really does want quick and brief talks, and he really does want to arrive at a solution. Netanyahu is aware of the danger posed by an absence of peace, both in terms of Israel’s perceived legitimacy and in terms of the risk to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state. Few have noticed, but aside from the Bar-Ilan [University] speech and the construction freeze, he also said that when peace is achieved, some settlements will remain outside the border – in the territory of the Palestinian state. He meant it. I’ve gotten to know him very well in the past four years, and I’m telling you that he is not just paying lip service. He is truly committed to peace."
Read the rest of the interview here