Dennis Ross Bats For Netanyahu


No big surprise in Laura Rozen's new piece that Dennis Ross, a central figure in the pro-Israel lobby, a protege of Paul Wolfwitz, the co-founder of the AIPAC-founded, Washington Institute For Near East Policy, and a fervent believer in Israel's eternal control of all of Jerusalem (meaning a two-state solution will never happen), is the main pro-Netanyahu voice in the Obama administration:

“He [Ross] seems to be far more sensitive to Netanyahu's coalition politics than to U.S. interests,” one U.S. official told POLITICO Saturday. “And he doesn't seem to understand that this has become bigger than Jerusalem but is rather about the credibility of this Administration.”

So an official in the US administration is claiming that Ross is more concerned with Israel's side of the story than with America's. This is not that surprising given that his position on Israel's holding Jerusalem as its eternal and undivided capital is well-documented. From an interview with the Jerusalem Post in 2008:

You raised the issue of Jerusalem. That was at the AIPAC speech. And what [Obama] said, he said the following: "Jerusalem is Israel's capital." He said the city should never be divided again. And it's true that in that speech he didn't make the third point, which is, the final status of the city will be resolved by negotiations. Before the speech he said that, after the speech he said that. The American position has been those three points.

The fact of the matter is, Jerusalem is Israel's capital. That's a fact. It's also a fact that the city should not be divided again. That's also a fact. The position of the United States since Camp David, the position, by the way, adopted in the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty, signed by [prime minister] Menachem Begin, was that the final status of Jerusalem would be resolved by negotiations. Those are the three points. That's what his position is.

Ross does not mention that he helped write Obama's speech. But he concedes that he omitted from the speech the fact that the final status of Jerusalem would be resolved by negotiations. I also note a remarkable use of words: "It's also a fact that the city should not be divided again. That's also a fact." How can a "should" be a "fact"? If this is something to be decided by future negotiations, how can it be a fact? And why is someone framing an argument as something that simply cannot be questioned?

It is also true that in that same speech, Obama clearly stated:

Israel can also advance the cause of peace by taking appropriate steps consistent with its security to ease the freedom of movement for Palestinians, improve economic conditions in the West Bank, and to refrain from building new settlements as it agreed to with the Bush administration at Annapolis.

My italics. No new settlements; no new building over the 1967 line. In no way can barring that adversely affect Israel's security. In fact, in helping facilitate the re-emergence of the US as an honest broker in the dispute, it alone is the pre-requisite that can rescue Israel from its path to assisted suicide. Netanyahu has to choose: between an unsustainable present and a last chance for peace.

And Obama should stand absolutely firm against the agents against change, such as Dennis Ross.

(Photo: Leon Neal/Getty.)