Ross, Dershowitz: Obama has Israel’s back on Iran

High-profile supporters of Israel, Obama tell 'Post' they believe US president would support J'lem should it strike Iran.

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER, JPOST CORRESPONDENT
September 21, 2012 05:28
3 minute read.
Dennis Ross [file photo]

Dennis Ross 370. (photo credit: Brett Weinstein / Wikimedia Commons (CC))

 
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WASHINGTON – Dennis Ross and Alan Dershowitz, high-profile supporters of both Israel and US President Barack Obama, told The Jerusalem Post Thursday they were confident the president would support Israel should it attack Iran in a last-ditch effort to stop a nuclear bomb, and that Obama would attack Iran himself if necessary.

They also took issue with Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney’s recently uncovered statements at a closed-door fund-raiser in May about the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, where he said he doesn’t see much potential for a two-state solution.

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“You hope for some degree of stability, but you recognize that this is going to remain an unsolved problem,” Romney said, pointing to a lack of desire for peace on the part of Palestinians and the security risks Israel would have to take in any two-state deal.

“If you create an impression that everything’s hopeless, you’re going to find you’re not going to be able to sustain stability,” Ross, who served as an adviser to Obama and several previous administration on the peace process, said in a telephone interview with the Post.

“Frustration is going to build.”

“We need a president who tries even harder in light of the difficulties to bring about a peace process,” said Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz, also speaking to the Post by phone. “The main beneficiary of a two-state solution would be Israel.”

Dershowitz agreed with Romney that many Palestinians didn’t want peace and that Israel could face security problems – but he contended that other Palestinians, including some of their leaders, did want peace, and that Israel’s security would have to be an essential part of a future deal.

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The controversy over Romney’s remarks, which were caught on video and widely distributed this week, came on the heels of fresh tensions between Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over how to handle Iran’s drive for nuclear capability.

Dershowitz, who has in the pass criticized elements of Obama’s policies in the Middle East, said the public exchange of differences between the two allies that included Obama not giving Netanyahu a meeting while he is in the US next week had been “mishandled.” But he was encouraged by the hour-long conversation between Obama and Netanyahu last week to smooth over the dust-up.

Ross acknowledged that “there are some differences now” between the US and Israel, but he added that a “genuine effort is being made to manage those.” He also said that if Israel felt it faced an existential threat and had to use force to stop Iran, the US would support it doing so.

“The US as its one true ally in the world needs to be there and will be there. I have no doubt of that, regardless of who’s president,” Ross said.

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Similarly, he said he was sure that if Obama felt all diplomatic options had been exhausted and Iran was getting close to having a nuclear bomb, “He’ll act.”

Dershowitz echoed that, based on his own conversations with Obama. He said that while “the administration can do and say a little more” so that Iran understood it won’t be allowed to acquire a nuclear weapon, he trusted that Obama would take military action if it became necessary.

And Dershowitz stressed that he was “absolutely” certain the US would support Israel if, as a last resort, it undertook an attack on its own.

Despite some of his criticisms in the past, Dershowitz said as of now, he planned to vote for Obama in November.

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