Dennis Ross 311 AP.
(photo credit: AP)
Top White House aide Dennis Ross visited Israel secretly at the end of last
week, paving the way for meetings administration officials are scheduled to have
this week in Washington with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s envoy Yitzhak
RELATED:PM, Blair meet as peace process returns to int'l agendaAbbas fears frustrations from stagnated peace process
A statement put out by the Prime Minister’s Office earlier this
week said that a Palestinian official would also be traveling to Washington for
talks, but this was not confirmed by the Palestinians.
Ross’s trip here,
coupled with a Prime Minister’s Office statement about Molcho’s visit that
called Ross the “American envoy to the Middle East,” fueled some speculation
that he was replacing George Mitchell in that role. Israeli diplomatic
officials, however, said there was no indication that this was the case, and
that referring to Ross as the Middle East envoy was merely an error in
A US official also denied that there had been any change in
Mitchell’s status or role, saying he was due back in the region in the near
Ross’s under-the-radar visit to Israel was his second in three
Meanwhile, Molcho may meet during his visit with Bill Daley, the
man US President Barack Obama tabbed as his new chief of staff, replacing Rahm
Ben Smith, writing on the Politico website, reported over the
weekend that Daley and Netanyahu sparred in 1998, when the former served as
then-president Bill Clinton’s commerce secretary.
According to the
report, Daley said after giving a speech at the Brookings Institute in 1998 that
Netanyahu was less interested in peace than his people.
“Every poll we’ve
seen, every poll that has been reported about the people of Israel [is]
overwhelmingly in favor of the peace process moving forward,” he said.
“Generally governments end up reflecting their people. It may take some
elections to do that, but that generally happens... And hopefully that the
people of Israel, again, who overwhelmingly are supportive of peace will make
their voices heard a little louder to the political
Netanyahu responded at the time by saying he expected an
apology for what seemed like meddling in internal Israeli
According to the Politico report, Netanyahu said, “I don’t know
whether he said the things that he hinted at or called for changes in the
Israeli government. If he said these things, they’re grave remarks which are
unacceptable to us.”
He added that “if these things were indeed said, I
expect an apology and unequivocal correction of the comments.”
Minister’s Office declined to comment on the report on Monday.
be noted that Ross – who worked as the US Middle East envoy in the 1990s when
Netanyahu was serving his first stint as prime minister – had a number of
unflattering passages about Netanyahu in his book The Missing Peace
, but this
has not prevented him from becoming a trusted White House conduit to the prime