TEL AVIV – President Barack Obama made a “conscious decision to try to distance [himself and his administration] from Israel,” which he views as “more of a problem than it is a partner,” Obama’s former aide, Dennis Ross, said on Sunday.
The Obama administration’s appraisal on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is, according to Ross, that “if you distance yourself from Israel, you’ll gain with the Arabs.”
Speaking at the Jerusalem Post’s annual conference in New York, Ross added that Obama is not the first president to think along those lines. Former presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, and George H.W. Bush all tried to distance themselves from Israel in order to be viewed more favorably in the Arab world.
Ross, a veteran diplomat who worked on Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations under the Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations, said that this White House is operating under the premise that “Israel is more of a problem than it is a partner.”
The impetus for arriving at a two-state solution for the Obama administration is the belief that it would trigger peace throughout the Middle East.
“If tomorrow you could solve this issue, it wouldn’t stop one barrel bomb in Syria,” he said. “It wouldn’t change Iran’s ambition in the region. It wouldn’t change the challenges Egypt is facing.”
“Every administration that has tried to distance itself from Israel has gained nothing,” he added.
Ross was uncertain about whether a comprehensive peace deal is currently viable given the political climate on both sides of the fence. However, a self-proclaimed optimist, Ross believes that the peace process is “doomed to succeed.” The term is also the title of his most recent book, which was written with the goal of educating the next president on the mistakes made in past negotiations.