Ross: U.S. Distancing Itself From Israel Won’t Bring Stability to Mideast

Pressuring Israel and distancing itself from her to solve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will not result in stability in the Middle East region, former Mideast peace envoy Dennis Ross said on Sunday.

“Every administration that sought to distance itself from Israel gained nothing,” Ross said during a speech at The Jerusalem Post annual conference in New York. “[Arab leaders] were never going to make their relationship with us depending upon our relationship with Israel. The threat to them came from their regional adversaries.”

According to Ross, President Barack Obama, following a pattern of previous presidents succeeding pro-Israeli presidents, has made a “conscious decision to try to distance himself from Israel.”

The former envoy also criticized the administration’s assumption that solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will bring stability to the region. “I still believe it’s important because I want Israel to be able to live peace; I don’t want Israel to become a binational state. I still believe it’s important to work on the issue. But I never worked out of it because I thought this is a game changer in the region,” Ross stressed. “If tomorrow you could solve this issue, it wouldn’t stop one barrel bomb in Syria. It wouldn’t roll ISIS back one meter. It wouldn’t change Iran’s ambitions in the region. It wouldn’t change the struggles Egypt is facing.”

“Today, honestly, I don’t think you can resolve it,” he added.

Characterizing himself as an optimist, Ross said his recent book, Doomed to Succeed, is intended to educate the next administration on the mistakes of past negotiations – to focus on the right objectives and not approach it as solve it or do nothing. He further expressed hope that the U.S.-Israel relationship will improve under the next president. “I am optimistic about what the relationship will be with the next administration for a very simple reason: It isn’t just that Israel is the only democracy in the region,” he said. “Look at the region itself. This is a region that is going to be characterized by terrible turmoil, terrible struggle, terrible conflict, and uncertainty. Contrast that uncertainty with one certainty – Israel. Israel is not going any place.”

Ross further described Israel as the only one country in the region that is governed by the rule of law, protects freedom of speech and that holds “regularly and unregularly scheduled elections,” as he concluded, “I can’t imagine that the next administration – when it looks at the region – won’t understand that picture.”

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