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September 11, 2016 4:16 am

Dennis Ross: If Elected, Clinton Should Seek More Israeli Concessions

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Former Clinton adviser and US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross. Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Dennis Ross. Photo: Wikimedia Commons. – If Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton wins the US presidential elections, her administration ought to launch a backdoor initiative to force changes in Israeli policy, said former Clinton adviser Dennis Ross on Thursday.

During a panel discussion at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, Ross said the public disputes between Israel and the Obama administration were counter-productive, which is why he thinks future involvement in the region by a President Hillary Clinton would ideally not be undertaken as a “big public initiative,” but as “efforts behind the scenes.”

Ross also proposed that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be taking steps toward peace, “even though negotiations with the Palestinian Authority (PA) won’t work now.” Ross claimed that Netanyahu “does not want to make the difficult choice between his domestic interests and what the international community expects.”

Ross took particular issue with the existence and expansion of Israeli settlements in Judea-Samaria and the Jordan Valley, saying “[Netanyahu] should, at a minimum, announce an official policy that there will be no further Israeli construction east of the security barrier.”

Such unilateral concessions would be consistent with “the traditional Zionist way of shaping your own destiny,” according to Ross. He continued to say that “if you could create the circumstances that would force [Netanyahu] to make that historic choice, I think he would.”

Twice, the former ambassador said Israelis need to realize “they can’t get [peace] on the cheap.”

Notwithstanding the current strained relations between Israel and America, Ross — who served as President Bill Clinton’s special envoy to the Middle East — insisted that President Obama “considers himself a genuine friend of Israel — the kind of friend who doesn’t let his friend drive drunk.”

The former ambassador’s comments provoked a strong response from fellow panelist Elliott Abrams, who acted as assistant secretary of state under President Ronald Reagan and served as President George W. Bush’s deputy national security adviser.

Abrams asserted that senior White House aides traditionally step in to patch relations when the president does not get along with a foreign leader, but, during the Obama administration, “the White House staff has made things worse” when it comes to Netanyahu.

Abrams singled out National Security Adviser Susan Rice for having harmed the US-Israel relationship, recalling last year’s incident in which an unnamed White House official used an obscenity in characterizing Netanyahu, but “was never punished for that ugly remark.” Abrams said, “If the president and his national security adviser wanted such talk to stop, it would have.”

In response, Ross claimed that “things like that didn’t happen under Tom Donilon,” Rice’s predecessor. However, several audience members pointed out that there were a number of gaffes during Donilon’s term, including Obama’s open-mic moment in 2011, when he bemoaned to then-French President Nicolas Sarkozy that he “has to deal with [Netanyahu] every day,” and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s assertion at the 2012 Saban Forum that Israel has a “lack of empathy” for “the pain of an oppressed people,” referring to the Palestinians.

Ross also seemed to hold the Israeli government responsible for some of the difficulties in enforcing the terms of the Iranian nuclear agreement, saying, “More could have been accomplished if Netanyahu had pressed for the creation of a Joint Implementation Committee, as I proposed.”

Israeli historian Benny Morris and former Haaretz correspondent Natasha Mozgovaya also took part in the panel, which was moderated by Robert J. Lieber, a Georgetown University professor of government and international affairs.

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  • Hopefully he has just given a lot of people a very good reason not to vote for Hillary Clinton, in case she takes his advice.

  • Chris Rettenmoser

    “Friends” like him are the MOST treacherous ENEMIES !!!!!!!

  • Hamanslayer

    1. The Algemeiner ought to include an option to “like” or agree with comments (and perhaps to disagree as well). I read all the comments and found that in most cases I agreed, and in several I would have complimented the authors. But to reply to each separately would have been too much..

    2. By now, it should be obvious (as it has been for Netanyahu long since) that the so-called “two-state solution” is no solution at all and will not result in peace. On the other hand, I believe even the most radical right-wing Israelis do not want a one-state “solution,” where Arabs can become a majority fairly quickly. This means that an eventual Palestinian-Arab state is inevitable, and Israel probably stands to gain quite a bit from helping to create it in areas it is willing to concede (like Ramallah and Qalqiliya and Nablus and Jenin), probably without giving up the (so-called) settlements. Then, war with this new Arab country would also be inevitable, and Israel must end up with a victory which enables it to dictate terms.

    3. This brings to mind the recent article by Gregg Roman of the Middle East Review, which asserts that peace can only be achieved with the Palestinian Arabs if and when they are convinced and concede that Israel has won a decisive victory. Even in the 2014 war in Gaza, Hamas declared itself the victor… (Just as Hezbollah did in Lebanon.)

    4. In recommending that Netanyahu take steps to stop settlement “east of the security barrier,” at least Ross is still acknowledging, sort of, the unity of Jerusalem. He is also not suggesting, at this point, dismantling the existing settlements. Also a positive, sort of. If these come as part of a plan to help create a second state — NOT on the Arabs’ terms, but in a very carefully thought-out plan by the Israeli government and SECURITY EXPERTS (notwithstanding the expected objections of the anti-Jewish Jews of Meretz and Peace Now and Betselem) then Ross’s arguments can hold some water.

  • joe

    Dennis Ross is the idiot–never forget–who vouched for Yassir Arafat as a newly minted humanitarian. He’s a pleasant, well-meaning man who is never right about anything. A putz.

    • Hamanslayer

      Joe, A pleasant, well-meaning man should not be called a putz. A putz is a prick, a dick, not a well-meaning, pleasant person….

  • art frank

    Much talk of the “oppressed” palestineans, but little said about the couple hundred thousand dead arabs, killed by their own. And how are the palistineans oppressed?
    They act like savages and are treated accordingly. That’s not oppression.

  • Time for Ross to retire. His strategies are bankrupt.
    Time for change.

  • I have always been a strong supporter of Dennis Ross.

    In response to Ross’s latest statement it appears that

    Ross is looking for an appointment to work in Hilary’s team.

    Just a few weeks ago he wrote an article that contradicts what he is now saying.

    • Vittorio

      Perhaps he didn’t think that the words spoken on this panel would reach the news.

  • Israel should not cede Jerusalem for no concessions made by Clinton . Hilary has always fought to get Israel back to the insecure 1967 borders she has always condemned all construction made by Israel even inside its territories, Hillary has been discredited by receiving millions of dollars from the Arab world who exercise pressure on her.In the end Israel don’t need a third term of Obama administration which is close to the Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood

  • Considering the harm that Ross and his colleagues did Israel in the 1990s, promoting the illusion that Arafat and his fellow jihadists were men of peace and that the Jews of Israel were the impediments to peace, one would think that he would have the decency to keep his silence. Can he really be unaware of the unbroken campaign of attempted genocide of the Jews of Israel by the Palestinian Arabs that stretches back at least 80 years and their unwillingness to ever make peace with Jews living in the the Middle East, except in subservience? Is it stupidity or an unwillingness to admit to colossal failure and the harm done?

  • RiverKing

    There went at least 50,000 Clinton votes. Keep it up, Dennis, and Hillary will get to retire from public life with the satisfaction she so richly deserves.

  • AndreiVincenzo

    With all due respect, Dennis Ross is a twit! United States should strong arm Israel behind the scenes and force Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to forgo Israel’s self interest meaning the protection of his people.

    I pray that Hillary is defeated in a electoral landslide and we can STOP meddling into Israel’s security measures and in fact, provide more military aid and efforts to protect it’s people and it’s borders from terrorist incursions. Enough is enough and Dennis Ross is just another talking head for appeasement.

  • Manuel Gold

    Dennis Ross is the one who “driving drunk.” He is also driving blind. The same applies to “what the international community expects.” How would Ross deal with the Palestinian people’s desire to destroy Israel? Does he accept the official Palestinian claim that Palestine must be Judenrein? Does Ross also demand that the Palestinians must change their textbooks and the indoctrination, from childhood, that their greatest goal must be to kill all Jews? Why is anyone paying any attention to Ross who is so out of touch with reality? Is he not aware that Israel did stop building in the West Bank, for ten months, and it had no effect? It is now up to the Palestinians to make a sincere move toward peace.
    I hope that one day there will be two states, Israel and Palestine, but unfortunately that will not happen until the Palestinians really want to live in peace, and that it becomes obvious to everyone, especially to their own people. Ross is just living on another planet.

  • Why does Israel always have to concede?

  • Bruce Gardner

    If Clinton, by depending on influence and ignorance, gets into the White House, it will be catastrophic for the United States. In no way is she fit for the job, after a history of personal, professional and political failure. If she gets in, it will be a judgment on America, with the only bright light being that it will finish off, once and for all, the crazy liberal agenda that has been unstitching every seam in the West’s values, pretending to be on the side of freedom and justice – while betraying them, and Israel, at every turn.

    The question is: how much would be destroyed in the process? America’s place in the world, already seriously weakened by Obama, would be finished forever under Clinton. Because of her husband’s known philandering, Hillary is despised in the Middle East. As morale is the single, greatest factor in war, terrorism would take renewed strength from her election, not only in the Middle East but across Europe and the US itself.

    It is a fact of life that stupidity is always self-punishing.

  • Yoel Nitzarim

    I wish that Dennis Ross would mind his own business concerning whatever Israel and the Palestinians need to do to reach an agreement. His input would not help ameliorate the relations between the two peoples when the Palestinian leaderships does not recognise he Jewish State of Israel. Furthermore, his advice to Hillary Clinton would only exacerbate the situation because he has already offered this advice to no avail in the past. Maybe he should try living in Israel for an extended period of time as a citizen before he offers any further uncalled-for advice.

  • Eddie Moses


  • Eddie Moses

    I think one calls this softening up the other fighter and protecting the ref, future President Hilary CLinton, from being the bad guy. USA under Clintons are out to get as much as they can out of a dependent Israel – they will worry about it only if and when the time comes (and it will in the not-too-distant future!).

  • Lucifer69

    Ross is acting like a wanker in inquisition.
    Vote Trump, solve problem.

  • Joy D. Brower

    I was appalled reading Dennis Ross’ comments which reflect a very passe point of view. He still clings to the apparition of a two-state peaceful initiative, simply refusing to accept the reality of a Jew-hating Palestinian Authority and Hamas. He and his remarks are totally irrelevant on today’s geopolitical war front. Dennis needs to REALLY be retired now – his usefulness (if it ever existed) is nil at this point. Say goodnight, Dennis!

  • montlasky

    Why doesn’t Ross shut the f–k up and just retire somewhere in a little beach town and talk to the whales?
    A has-been or never-been guy who knows nothing about Israel or the israelis but thinks he does. A man who knows not that he knows not!!!

  • William Lewis Wexler

    This fool does not want to believe or understand the Arab philosophy/mentality that equates compromise with weakness. He also fails to understand that you cannot make peace with those whose aim is to destroy you. Israel must ignore the Pollyanna liberal ignorance in the U.S and the world antisemitism that ignores Arab terrorism that predates 48, 57, 67 etc. and supports a barbarian and racist outlook that is never blamed for its atrocities

  • The Int community is not interested in the good of Israel. Ross is a typical democrat/socialist.

  • How wrong I was… Sorry. I believed that the subject had passed on, but regrettably it still lingers.
    UnJews linger as Faust, the Count, did.

    I remember how they propped Evita as a candidate for the VP post with her husband, Peron, as President. She was semi dead and kept on machines and still was made to appear on TV going for the job. Why is it that I suddenly remember that?

  • Yale

    `Ross claimed that Netanyahu “does not want to make the difficult choice between his domestic interests and what the international community expects.”’

    So what if “what the international community expects” is disconnected from reality? This has been the problem with the “Two-State” solution from the very beginning: Israel was expected to make concessions to achieve it even as the Arabs continued to insist they would never accept such a solution. The real problem is that the “experts”, like Ross, basically have no clue what they’re talking about.

  • Michael

    Dennis Ross was an utter failure during his years as a special envoy trying to establish peace between Israel and the Palestinians. Now, keeping in tune with his past performance, he is offering a useless proposal. It is the Palestinians who should be pressured, not Israel. They are the obstacles to peace. If they simply agreed to recognize Israel’s right to exist and renounced terrorism there would be peace.

  • Robert Weintraub

    It is incredible that many American Jews give advice calling on Israel to make concessions. Dennis Rose made a career out of trying “bring peace between Israel and the Palestinians.” There are than a billion Muslims in the world. Has there ever been one demanding concessions from the Palestinians?

    Dennis Ross is a diaspora Jew who is unconcerned that the concessions he is urging may adversely affect Israel’s security.
    He ought to be ashamed of himself.

  • Ross does think of himself as a friend of Israel. and, it seems that he does the best that he can. but, he is an incorrigible fool.

    here are some clues for the well-meaning but clueless Dennis Ross:

    1. Ross was catastrophically wrong about the nature of Israel’s antagonists in gaza and about the gaza disengagement, generally.
    2. now, a slightly more cautious Ross wants Israel to submit itself to the expectations of a largely hostile “international community.” what that means is that, in Ross’s view, Israel must relinquish all claims to anything beyond the green line. presumably, Ross would, like other “friends” of Israel, e.g. Carter & Brzezinski, allow “mutually agreed swaps.”

    what this means is that the big friend, Dennis Ross, believes that the illegal Jordanian occupation of Judea and Samaria and the consequent ethnic cleansing must be vindicated. Ross believes that the Jordanian exile of Jews from the Old City of Jerusalem and other sites in Judea and Samaria, the ancient Jewish patrimony, must be restored. wherever Jordanian troops took territory, the Jews were either murdered or thrown out. that’s how, inter alia, “traditionally Arab” East Jerusalem became traditionally Arab! but, the big friend, Ross, has made himself a champion of those Jordanian outrages; he wants to compel Israel to respect them and to yield to them.

  • If this jerk Dennis Ross thinks his comments help convince me to vote for Clinton, he should think again.

    By the way, did Ross discuss Iran’s recent renewed funding of Islamic Jihad?

    Oh, he didn’t. How interesting.

    There’s this “soft” form of anti-Semitism, where endless demands are made of Israel, in exchange for the arming of enemies sworn to its destruction.

    There’s a photo of Hillary Clinton warmly shaking Abbas’s hand. In September 2015, at the beginning of endless jihadist vehicular and knife attacks against Jews (and the American Taylor Force) in Israel, Abbas made an Arabic video, saying that the “filthy feet” of Jews will never go near their mosque, that the stabbing jihadists are “martyrs” who will be rewarded by Allah in heaven, and Abbas also says “We welcome every drop of blood spilled.”

    Has Hillary Clinton EVER condemned Abbas for that video?

  • Yaakov

    It is axiomatic that people can only change themselves, and Israel doesn’t need someone who first declared Jerusalem to be an indivisible Jewish city and later chided Israel for building in it to tell them what to do.

    It is clear, however, that the misguided settlement expansion will be to Israel’s detriment. It is another political ploy, a sop to the extreme nationalists. If you don’t want a one-state solution, then let the “Palestinian” Arabs have their land that they can do with as they please (so long as what they do does not compromise Israel’s security). Enough is enough with this settlement nonsense.

  • Aisha

    Ross is behaving like the new Democratic Party and Boss Hillary Tweed. Everything he said is calculated to get a position if Clinton wins, God forbid.

    Which shows where Clinton stands on these issues.

    • Jonas

      Dennis Ro(ss) is contradicting International Law
      League Of Nation (San Remo conference).

    • montlasky

      I don’t think Hillary will be going no place now. Cough! Cough!