dennis ross_311 reuters.
(photo credit: Gary Cameron / Reuters)
WASHINGTON – Longtime US Mideast envoy Dennis Ross said Monday he did not
believe the time was ripe for a permanent deal between Israelis and Palestinians
and suggested regarding the region now from a position of
“Right now I don’t think the context lends itself very well
to producing a permanent status deal,” said Ross, who recently left the Obama
administration but last month consulted with the parties as an unpaid White
For much of its tenure, the Obama administration has
devoted itself to trying to reach a final status deal, setting ambitious
deadlines to make it happen.
Ross, speaking to the Aspen Institute, also
cautioned that the recent unity deal between Fatah and Hamas could end up
amounting to little.
“We’ve seen that announcements don’t always
translate into immediate behaviors,” he noted, but he did indicate that he
expected this process to lead towards elections.
He warned Israel that in
any such elections it has “an enormous stake in ensuring that those Palestinians
who believe in nonviolence, who believe in coexistence are the ones who are
“I want to see steps that show that the occupation is actually
And Ross said that though he doesn’t foresee a terminal peace
deal in the near future, he stressed that the sides shouldn’t “give up on
trying” in case such a deal was possible, and also as a means of widening the
range of options at each side’s disposal.
He described a “major
psychological gap” between the two parties as a key obstacle to
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas “believes that
with this Israeli government there is no deal and therefore why try to even get
into a negotiation with them,” he said, while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
complains of Abbas that “it looks like you’re constantly trying to discredit me
and delegitimize us.”
He also pointed to Israeli concerns about regional
dynamics in the wake of the Arab Spring and the looming threat of a nuclear Iran
as reasons some in Israel are thinking twice about making
One of the major earthquakes rocking the Middle East in the
Arab Spring shake-up is the roiling violence in Syria.
Russia for vetoing a UN Security Council resolution this weekend, which was
aimed at the removal of Syrian leader Bashar Assad.
He urged Arab League
countries, which sponsored the plan, to lobby Russia to change its
“I don’t think the Russians are real comfortable with the
position they’re in,” he said, referring to its isolation as the only country
along with China to vote against the resolution. He characterized the further
spate of Syrian violence this weekend as “embarrassing” Moscow even
Ross said changing the Russian position could be very important
because unlike recently deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, Assad would not
hole up in his compound but be susceptible to strong international
“It’s important to signal to Assad that he has more to worry
about,” Ross said.
He added that it was important to speak with an air of
inevitability about fall of the Syrian regime to encourage that event.
think it’s coming,” he said. “It’s only a matter of time.”