Repairing U.S. Ties a Must After Election, Says Ex-Envoy

TEL AVIV (Reuters) -

Israel must try to repair relations with the United States no matter who wins Tuesday’s election, said Michael Oren, a former Israeli ambassador to Washington and a potential foreign minister if his party joins the next government.

“We have to do a major reach-out. There’s some work to be done,” Oren said.

The U.S.-born Oren, 59, was appointed ambassador by Netanyahu in 2009 and served until 2013. He is running for Knesset on the Kulanu party late.

In an interview with Reuters, Oren, a historian, said Israel needed to restore bipartisan Congressional support in the face of Democrats’ anger over Netanyahu’s acceptance of the Republican invitation to address Congress earlier this month.

One way to try to achieve that, he said, would be to declare that Israeli construction in Yehudah and Shomron would be limited only to areas which Israel intends to keep in any future land-for-peace deal with the Palestinians.

“I think we can go very far to ameliorating some of the strains with the Democratic party if we don’t build outside of these blocs,” said Oren.

But he said Israel could take steps, such as allowing Palestinians greater freedom of movement to cultivate what he called a “two-state situation”.

“Doing nothing is not an option,” Oren said, describing one right-wing party’s proposal to annex parts of Yehudah and Shomron as “disastrous” and inviting Israel’s “instant isolation” internationally.

“We’ll lose America, you have to work hard to lose America but that would do it,” he said.

“This is what we have to do in the interim: we have to build up a two-state situation … and we have to prove to the world that we are serious about any future negotiations for a final settlement with a Palestinian partner.”