Despite Barack Obama’s opposition to much of President Donald Trump’s pro-Israel foreign policy concerning the longstanding Israeli-Palestinian conflict, an envoy to the former Democratic president is directing Arabs to reach a peace deal under Obama’s Republican successor in the Oval Office.
“Obama[s’] envoy to [the] Arabs [is advising them,] ‘don’t mess up [the] chance for peace,’” WND reported.
This comes as a surprise to many conservatives, especially with Ross’ strong connection to Obama – with his staunch pro-Palestinian and anti-Trump stances – and his ties to former President Bill Clinton, who has also been a harsh critic of Trump and his pro-Israeli dealings in the Middle East, as well.
“Dennis Ross – who served as Barack Obama’s envoy to the Middle East and also worked in the Bill Clinton administration – is urging Arabs to seize a possible opportunity for peace orchestrated by President Trump,” Joseph Farah reported in his G2 Bulletin.
Listen to Trump
Ross made his pro-Trump message loud and clear to the Muslim world in the Middle East through an article he wrote for a British-based Saudi media outlet.
“[Ross basically insisted that] if Trump’s peace deal is credible, Arab leaders must keep Palestinians from missing yet another opportunity by supporting the deal explicitly and publicly,” Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) recounted. “Ross urged the Arab leaders to take an active role in promoting the ‘Ultimate Deal’ that U.S. President Donald Trump means to propose for resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.”
Ross, who currently serves as a fellow with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, has tentatively voiced his vote of confidence for Trump’s attempt to seal peace between Israel and the Palestinians, which Obama failed to achieve during his two terms in office.
“[Ross stressed] that – providing the deal is credible and meets the needs of both sides – the Arab leaders must help the Palestinians accept it by declaring their support for it … that is, they must not only support it behind the scenes and in closed forums, as they have done with respect to previous proposals, but announce publicly and openly that the deal meets the Arab parameters for a viable agreement,” MEMRI explained. “Ross [noted that] the Palestinians, missed a great opportunity to attain their goals by rejecting the Camp David Accords and the subsequent autonomy talks in 1980, [and] given the bad relations between the current Palestinian leadership and Trump, chances are that that latter's proposal will likewise be met with an instinctive Palestinian rejection.”
He also stressed how Arab leaders must prevent the Palestinians from skipping another chance at peace – and stand on firm position to reach it via Trump.
Writing for the London-based Saudi daily owned by the Al-Mahalla media group, Ross gave some strong advice to the Arab world in his June 15 commentary titled "Arab Leaders Need to Play a More Prominent Role on Peace-Making Than They Ever Have Before." In it, he explained how Trump, his son-in-law Jared Kushner and the president’s former real estate attorney, Jason Greenblatt, devised a peace plan – one that the “deal-maker” commander-in-chief describes as the “ultimate deal,” while conceding that because of its fairness, all sides must make some concessions to make it work.
"A few months ago – when they briefed the UN Security Council members on their approach and the status of the plan – they emphasized that Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs would love parts of it and hate parts of it,” Ross wrote in his Al-Sharq Al-Awsat article published by the Al-Mahalla media group. “Fair enough, no plan that is credible can please or address only the needs of one side. By definition, no peace plan can succeed unless it addresses the needs of both sides.”
Even though Ross did not acknowledge in his piece Israel’s legitimate claim to the Holy Land that God proclaims in the Bible, he did recognize – more so than Obama – that Israel has a genuine right to the land it reclaimed in 1948.
"What has made this such a difficult conflict to resolve is that there are two 'rights' and not a right and a wrong in this conflict, [and] those two 'rights' have to be reconciled,” he insisted. “We are dealing with two national movements competing for the same space. Inevitably, the conflict came to be defined in zero-sum terms, with a win for one side always being seen as a loss for the other.”
Don’t get your hopes up too high …
Ross expressed skepticism that an outright win-win solution for all sides will result – especially with Trump’s recent move of the United States Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, which he recognizes as the Jewish State’s legitimate capital city ... to the dismay of the Arab world.
“The idea that both could win has been difficult to accept,” the former Democratic envoy continued. “A case in point is the Trump decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and to move the embassy. Even though Trump said that he was not recognizing the boundaries of Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem because those needed to be negotiated, the decision was portrayed as an Israel win and a Palestinian loss – so much so that Mahmoud Abbas cut off all official contact with the Trump administration and said it could no longer be the sole mediator.”
The Middle East expert then commended Trump for still being willing to work with the Palestinian Authority (P.A.) president, whose government is co-run by the Islamic terrorist group of the Palestinians – Hamas.
"That has not deterred the Trump administration and it continues to say it will present its plan at some point,” Ross noted in his commentary. “With no real contact with official Palestinians, the president needs Arab leaders to play a more prominent role on peace-making than they ever have before. In saying this, I do not mean to suggest that Arab leaders can take the place of Palestinians – they cannot – but they can do something they have not done before: they can declare whether a proposal or plan is credible and meets the national aspirations of the Palestinian people in a dignified way.”
Arabs … don’t repeat your past mistakes
A key problem in the decades-long failed Israeli-Palestinian peace talks was then laid out – a setback attributed to the Arabs’ all-or-nothing mentality that is unrealistic, impractical and ultimately contrary to God’s layout of the land allotted to Israel in Scripture.
"Historically, the position of the Arab leaders – who accept a peaceful outcome and the principle of two states for two peoples – has been to say that they can accept whatever the Palestinians can accept,” Ross recounted. “The problem has been that the Palestinian national movement has been led by those who find it difficult to accept specific proposals for resolving the conflict. As someone who helped to draft the Clinton Parameters in 2000, I know that at the time, Arab leaders quietly urged Arafat to accept them, [b]ut all this was done quietly.”
He went on to note the Palestinians’ regret of their blown chance for peace in the not-so-distant past.
"I was hosted at a dinner a few months ago by a number of Palestinians – including some I had negotiated with – and they lamented how different everything today would be if Arafat had said yes, [but] he did not,” Ross recalled. “No one in the Arab world staked out a public position – no leaders said that while the decision was a Palestinian one, these parameters were credible and met Palestinian national rights. History might have been rewritten if someone had done so.”
Against all odds?
Obama’s former envoy then mulled over whether Trump’s new shot at peace in the Middle East will be different than previous failed attempts.
"Given the weakness and division of the Palestinians – and Abbas’ rejection of the Trump Administration – it seems clear that whatever the Trump peace plan turns out to be, the Palestinian instinct will be to say no to it,” Ross argued. “Arab leaders might be able to affect the Palestinian position if they were in a position to say that the plan was credible and worthy of discussion. Of course, they could only say this if the plan was credible.”
Some parameters were then set as to what needs to happen for any chance of upcoming success in the proposed deal.
“For Arab leaders – at a minimum – the plan must address Palestinian national needs, both in terms of viable borders for the state and a capital in Arab part of East Jerusalem,” Ross impressed. “Presumably, the Trump Administration will go over the plan – not generalities about it but its specifics – with key Arab leaders before presenting it. The president should know what the response is going to be before presenting it, and his peace team should work out the language of what will be said about the plan in advance so there are no surprises.”
He said that the Palestinians should have taken advantage of a proposed deal decades ago, when one of the United States’ most pro-Palestinian presidents in history was in the White House.
"By rejecting President Carter’s Camp David Accords and the subsequent autonomy talks, the Palestinians lost an opportunity to stop additional Israeli settlement building; in 1980, in talks mediated by Ambassador Sol Linowitz, the Israelis agreed that one of the powers of the Palestinian Interim Self-Governing Authority would be a veto over new uses of land in the West Bank and Gaza,” Ross contended. “At the time, Israel had less than 5,000 settlers. With 300,000 settlers today in the lands outside of Jerusalem, it is not hard to see what the Palestinians lost by foregoing this opportunity – and, obviously, saying no to Bill Clinton has left the Palestinians far worse off.”
The foreign diplomat who served under two Democratic administrations then warned Muslim leaders in the volatile “Powder Keg” that they should think twice before rejecting Trump’s proposed deal, which may be their only chance for some time.
"Perhaps, Arab leaders today can serve Palestinian interests by going public and making it possible for Palestinians not to miss an opportunity if there is one,” Ross offered. “At this point, I don’t know what is in the administration’s peace plan; I don’t know if it will meet a standard of credibility in Arab eyes – however, I do know that if it crosses a threshold of credibility, Arabs can best support the Palestinians by being open and saying that it does.”
He then advised the Palestinians and Arab leaders to learn from history and not repeat their mistakes … if the Palestinians are unhappy with their current situation, which their violent protests and attacks against Israel continue to demonstrate.
"Rejection has not served the Palestinian cause,” Ross concluded. “Arab support for that cause today might best be expressed by being honest with the Palestinians in private and in public."