Dennis Ross: Propagandist


Dennis Ross was the director of policy planning in the State Department under President George H. W. Bush, was a leading Middle East peace envoy under President Bill Clinton, served as a special advisor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and served two years as a special assistant to President Barack Obama.

As Ross has been deeply involved in shaping US policy toward the Middle East for over 25 years, and may again play an important role in a future administration, his geopolitical views are worth examining.

Accordingly, in the analysis below, I compare Ross’s views on political issues, covered in his 2015 book Doomed to Succeed, to the views of respected scholars, authors, and journalists.

The overall result is troubling. Ross consistently contextualizes issues in a misleading manner and omits salient facts in order to present Israel in a positive light.


Issues Analyzed:
-Prelude to the 1973 War
-Prelude to the 1982 Lebanon War
-Failure at the 2000 Camp David Summit
-Mitchell Report
-Zubari and Ze’evi Assassinations
-Shalit Kidnapping
-The 2006 Lebanon War
-Prelude to the 2008-09 Gaza Conflict
-Palestine Papers
-Ross’s Concluding Recommendations


-“[O]n February 8, 1971, [the UN Special Representative to the Middle East Gunnar] Jarring presented a questionnaire to [Israel and Egypt]. It dealt with the full range of issues, but there was one mirror-image question: Were the Egyptians willing to make peace with Israel if Israel withdrew to the international border? And if Egypt was prepared to make peace, would Israel be willing to withdraw to the international border? Sadat answered a week later, and for the first time he committed Egypt to making peace with Israel in return for full Israeli withdrawal [from the Sinai]. For the Israelis, this was not the forum to give such an answer—that should be reserved for the give-and-take of direct negotiations with the Egyptians.” (Dennis Ross, Doomed To Succeed: The US-Israel Relationship From Truman To Obama, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York: 2015, 120. Hereinafter, “Ross 2015.”)

Primarily due to Israeli and American non-responsiveness to his concerns, “Sadat shifted course and, on May 27, 1971, concluded a Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation with the Soviet Union.” (Ross 2015, 122)

“On July 18, 1972, Sadat asked all fifteen thousand Soviet advisers to leave Egypt. He blamed the Russians for adopting a ‘no war-no peace’ posture in the Middle East and called on them to ‘enable Cairo to develop an adequate military option for use in the future.’” (Ross 2015, 123)

“Shortly after the expulsion of the Soviet advisers, Kissinger received a message from the Egyptians indicating their willingness to have confidential talks, their seriousness about a limited agreement along the Suez Canal, and their desire to hear new ideas from the United States. Though Kissinger exchanged messages, he did not agree to meet with his Egyptian counterpart, Hafez Ismail, until February 1973. And, when they did meet, Kissinger saw no great urgency in offering new ideas.” (Ross 2015, 123)

“On October 6, 1973,…the administration was taken by surprise by the Arab attack on Israel…Israel would win a military victory but at tremendous cost.” (Ross 2015, 124)

-For a more detailed version of this article, and for other articles, go to:


-“[I]n February 1973, eight months before the [1973 War], Anwar Sadat sent his trusted aide, Hafez Ismail, to the US Secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. He offered the immediate start of peace negotiations with Israel. There was one condition and one date: all of Sinai, up to the international border, had to be returned to Egypt without any Israeli settlements, and the agreement had to be achieved by September [1973], at the latest.”

“Kissinger liked the proposal and transmitted it at once to the Israeli ambassador, Yitzhak Rabin [who supported accepting the offer]…Rabin, of course, immediately informed the Prime Minister, Golda Meir. She rejected the offer out of hand.”

“Neither she nor [Minister of Defense Moshe] Dayan dreamed of giving up [the] Sinai [and its Jewish settlements and oil wells].”

In order to avoid pressure to accept Sadat’s initiative, Golda only permitted a handful of Israelis to know about it.

Sadat’s deadline of “September came and passed, and on October 6th Sadat’s troops struck across the [Suez] canal and achieved a world-shaking surprise success (as did the Syrians on the Golan Heights). As a direct result of Golda’s [dismissal of the initiative] 2693 Israeli soldiers died, 7251 were wounded and 314 were taken prisoner (along with the tens of thousands of Egyptian and Syrian casualties).”

“Sadat had no illusions of victory…but hoped that a war would compel the US and Israel to start negotiations for the return of Sinai.” (In fact, all of the Sinai was returned as a result of the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty.)

Israel continues to dismiss peace offers. For example, the 2002 “Arab Peace Initiative, supported by all the Arab and all the Muslim states, [is ignored by Israel]. [And,] settlements are put up and expanded [in the West Bank], in order to make the return of the occupied territories impossible.”


-“The [1982 Lebanon] war itself was triggered by an act of terror. On June 3, 1982, in London, Palestinian gunmen shot the Israeli ambassador to Britain. The Israelis retaliated the next day by bombing the sports stadium in Beirut, empty except for the vast stores of PLO arms, which exploded spectacularly. On June 5, PLO mortars and rockets hit twenty towns in the north of Israel—and notwithstanding a plea from Reagan for restraint…, on June 6 Israel launched a campaign that it called Peace for Galilee.” (Ross 2015, 192)


-“Israel invaded Lebanon on June 5, 1982, following an eleven-month cease-fire with the PLO, which Israel claimed had been broken by the attempted assassination of the Israeli ambassador to the United Kingdom Shlomo Argov…It made little difference to the Israelis that the assassination had been carried out by a renegade Palestinian group led by the infamous Sabri al-Banna…, a blood foe of the PLO. The invasion gave Ariel Sharon, then the Israeli defense minister, carte blanche to pursue his own dream of destroying the PLO as a political force in the region and putting in place a pliant government in Beirut that would become the second Arab state, after Egypt, to enter into a formal peace agreement with Israel.” (Augustus Richard Norton, Hezbollah: A Short History, Princeton University Press, Princeton: 2007, 33. Hereinafter, “Norton 2007.”)

-“[W]hile the PLO might have been weak…militarily, it had in recent years been making steady headway diplomatically. Its spirit of compromise, its readiness to settle for…less than a quarter of [Palestine]…won it international credit. The Soviet Union was soon to ‘recognize’ it; it looked as though Europe might one day…It was President Reagan’s special envoy, Philip Habib who had negotiated an end to the ‘artillery war’ [between the PLO in Lebanon and Israel]…At the same time, Saudi Arabia’s King Fahd, a close friend of Washington, was trying to interest it in a ‘two-state’ Middle East ‘peace plan’. If things had gone on like this, Israel might have found itself dragged into peace talks to which the PLO would have been a party.…For the Israeli government, wrote Professor Yehoshua Porat,…[it was desirable for] the PLO to ‘return to its earlier terrorist exploits…’” (David Hirst, Beware of Small States: Lebanon, Battleground of the Middle East, Nation Books, New York: 2010, 132-3. Hereinafter, “Hirst 2010.”)

-Israel’s breaking of the ceasefire in June 1982 “was openly described in Israel as a war for the West Bank, undertaken to put an end to annoying…PLO calls for a diplomatic settlement…” (AssafKfoury editor, Inside Lebanon: Journey to a Shattered Land with Noam and Carol Chomsky, Monthly Review Press, New York: 2007, 103. Hereinafter, “Kfoury 2007.”)


-In mid-2000, Prime Minister Barak told the US administration “he wanted to move quickly to a summit with the Palestinians, even though he had failed to fulfill a number of standing commitments to Arafat…” (Ross 2015, 291)

Despite the ensuing failure at the 2000 Camp David summit, Clinton wanted to pursue the process. “[A]fter the summit, we briefed [Arab leaders] on how much was offered by Israel that Arafat had turned down. This approach seemed to work in the weeks after the summit. Barak did not pay a political price in Israel, with key issues like Jerusalem being demystified for the first time. For his part, Arafat, after initially trying to capitalize on the image of defying us, became defensive and asked the president to send me to the area to prepare for a second summit.” (Ross 2015, 294)


-Shlomo Ben-Ami, Israel’s lead negotiator at the 2000 Camp David summit, publicly stated the following in 2006: “Camp David was not the missed opportunity for the Palestinians, and if I were a Palestinian I would have rejected Camp David, as well.”

-Ehud Barak’s “final offer at Camp David…proposed that Israel annex the 9 percent of the West Bank that included the largest settlement ‘blocs’ while offering in return an area one-ninth as large inside the green line. Nine percent may not seem like much, but as some Israel officials have since conceded, annexing settlements like Ariel, which stretches thirteen miles beyond the green line, would have severely hindered Palestinian travel between the northern and southern halves of the West Bank. It also would have left Israel in control of much of the West Bank’s water supply. Moreover, Barak insisted on maintaining sovereignty for up to twelve years over part of the Jordan Valley, which comprises another 25 percent of the West Bank.” In the words of former Barak aide Tal Zilberstein, “[T]here are still people who say, ‘We gave them everything at Camp David and got nothing.’ This is a flagrant lie.” (Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Times Books, New York: 2012, 66-7, 72.)


-President Bush’s Secretary of State Colin “[P]owell was hoping to contain the violence [of the second Intifada] and would treat the Mitchell Report, issued on April 30, 2001, as the basis for a policy.” (Ross 2015, 303)

Former Senators George Mitchell and Warren Rudman “were the cochairs of the Sharm El-Sheikh Fact-Finding Committee, which had been established…in October 2000 to look into the causes of the intifada and what might be done to stop it and prevent a recurrence.” (Ross 2015, 304)

“[T]he Mitchell Report offered a set of recommendations, calling on the Palestinians to stop violence and terror and on the Israelis to halt settlement activity, including natural growth.” (Ross 2015, 304)


-“The 2001 Mitchell Report found that the second intifada initially consisted of ‘demonstrations of unarmed Palestinians.’…Amnesty [International] found that ‘the majority of people killed were taking part in demonstrations where stones were the only weapons used….Many persons were apparently killed by poorly targeted lethal fire; others…appear, on many occasions, to have been deliberately targeted.’” (Norman G. Finkelstein, Knowing Too Much: Why the American Jewish Romance with Israel Is Coming to an End, OR Books, New York: 2012, 273-4. Hereinafter, “Finkelstein 2012.”)

-“The view that Arafat and the Palestinian Authority orchestrated the outbreak of the intifada was rejected by the Mitchell committee…Ami Ayalon, former head of Israel’s Shin Bet (General Security Service), was clear: ‘Yasser Arafat neither prepared nor triggered the Intifada.’”


-During the summer of 2001, the situation between Israel and the Palestinians “did not improve; terror attacks and bombings did not stop in Israel, and Israeli closures and reprisals continued.” (Ross 2015, 305-6)

“[O]n August 27, in response to the Israeli killing of [Abu Ali] Mustafa Zubari, the leader of a radical Palestinian faction, State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said, ‘Israel needs to understand that targeted killings of Palestinians don’t end the violence but are only inflaming an already volatile situation…’” (Ross 2015, 307)

“In the wake of…new efforts by the Bush administration to reach out to Israel, there was a series of terror attacks, and [on October 17, 2001,] an Israeli minister, Rehavam Ze’evi, was assassinated by Palestinian gunmen…” (Ross 2015, 311)


-Despite Arafat finally joining Sharon in accepting the Mitchell Report’s ceasefire on 2 June 2001, the intifada continued as Israel’s assassination policy, “an inheritance from the previous Barak government,” inflamed the situation as it “put pressure on the militants to hit back in order to demonstrate their resilience. Thus, when on 31 July the [Israeli] army assassinated two senior Hamas activists…this, as expected, led to a retaliatory attack by Hamas, on 9 August, which was directed against the crowded Sbarro pizzeria in central Jerusalem; fifteen were killed…The Israelis then hit again, on 27 August, with a missile attack on the office of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) in Ramallah, which killed its target – the 63-year-old Abu Ali Mustafa [Zubari], the faction’s head. This was a serious escalation of the conflict, as Mustafa was a political leader rather than a militant….Indeed, by killing a political leader Sharon took his counter-insurgency tactics to a new level, effectively forcing the Palestinians to upgrade their attacks and target an Israeli political leader…Their success came on 17 October, when…two Palestinians assassinated Israel’s tourism minister, Rehavham Ze’evi – one of Israel’s most hardline politicians.” (Ahron Bregman, Cursed Victory: A History of Israel and the Occupied Territories, Allen Lane, London: 2014, 271-2.)

-“The University of Toronto sociologist Robert Brym carefully studied all 138 suicide bombings between September 2000 and mid-July 2005. He concluded that in the vast majority of cases the suicide bombers themselves—whatever their ideological predispositions, or the groups that claimed responsibility—had lost a friend or close relative to Israeli fire. They acted, he wrote, ‘out of revenge’.” (Bernard Avishai, The Hebrew Republic, Harcourt, New York: 2008, 255.)

“During those five years, Israeli forces undertook some two hundred assassination attempts, eighty per cent of which hit their targets, often causing, Brym writes, considerable ‘collateral damage.’”


-“[I]n the late fall of 2003, with Abbas [having resigned as prime minister], Arafat still in power, terror attacks continuing unabated, and the US initiative on the Roadmap going nowhere, pressures were building in Israel to do something….[Sharon’s] solution was ‘disengagement.’…President Bush’s reaction was immediate and positive [as he felt it would force the Palestinians to respond].” (Ross 2015, 323-4)

“The stakes were huge in making the [August 2005] Gaza withdrawal a success on the ground, but little was done in advance to deal with the likely problems, and the results were predictable. As chaos reigned in Gaza, Hamas gained, and the seeds of its eventual takeover were sown…” (Ross 2015, 327)


-When Israel withdrew from Gaza in August 2005, Jews constituted 0.6 per cent of the population (as approximately 8,000 Jewish settlers and 1.5 million Palestinians lived in Gaza); and, Israel and Jewish settlers controlled 25% of the territory, 40% of the arable land and a disproportionate share of the scarce water resources. (AviShlaim, Israel and Palestine: Reappraisals, Revisions, Refutations, Verso, London: 2009, 308.)

-Dov Weisglass, senior adviser to then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, made the following 2004 statement indicating the primary motivation for Israel’s 2005 withdrawal from the Gaza Strip: “The significance of the disengagement plan is the freezing of the peace process…And when you freeze that process, you prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state, and you prevent a discussion on the refugees, the borders and Jerusalem. Effectively, this whole package called the Palestinian state, with all that it entails, has been removed indefinitely from our agenda. And all this with…a presidential blessing and the ratification of both houses of [the US] Congress.”


-“On June 25, [2006,] Hamas, using a tunnel under the border, had attacked from Gaza into Israel and killed two Israeli soldiers and kidnapped a third, Gilad Shalit, who would be held for five years.” (Ross 2015, 328)


-On 24 June 2006—one day before Shalit was captured—two Palestinian brothers, Osama and Mustafa Abu Muamar, were kidnapped from Gaza by Israeli soldiers.

-In an important 2012 book by ShlomiEldar, Getting to Know Hamas, high-level officials in Hamas, such as its political chief Khaled Meshal, are shown to be strategic and pragmatic, not fanatical ideologues as commonly portrayed by Israeli leaders. For example, after “Shalit was seized by Palestinian militants in a 2006 cross-border raid” a detailed document was “sent by messenger to then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.” The document included the following: “Hamas offers two alternatives: 1. A separate track, dealing only with the release of Gilad Shalit in return for 1,000 Palestinian political prisoners. 2. A release of prisoners will take place in the broader context of a strategic approach ‏(as follows‏), and the number of prisoners released will not be in the hundreds.”

The detailed document, “whose existence and transmission to the prime minister were denied completely by Olmert’s office at the time, constituted an offer by Hamas to conduct a multilevel dialogue with Israel, beginning with discussion about a cease-fire and the building of long-term trust, and ending with a coexistence agreement to last 25 years, and the establishment of a Palestinian state within 1967 borders.”

(Shalit was in fact released in 2011 as part of a deal between Hamas and Israel under which over 1,000 Palestinian prisoners were freed.)


-“On July 12, 2006, Hezbollah orchestrated an ambush across the Israeli border that was covered by an initial barrage of mortars and rockets. Its forces killed eight Israeli soldiers and kidnapped two wounded ones who would subsequently die. Considering that Israel had withdrawn from Lebanon in May 2000, it is not difficult to understand why Israel struck back hard on July 13. But that is only part of the explanation…” (Ross 2015, 328)

“With the Hezbollah attack on July 12, Olmert felt the need to reestablish the image of Israeli deterrence…But there was another reason for him to act: his priority had been the Palestinians, and he had intended to pursue a policy of unilateral withdrawal from a major part of the West Bank if negotiations proved unavailing with Abbas. After the attacks from both Gaza and Lebanon—the two areas where Israel had withdrawn unilaterally—he had to either reestablish Israeli deterrence or risk weakening the justification for withdrawal from parts of the West Bank, an area that was not only emotionally part of Israel’s heritage but literally touched the most populous areas in Israel.” (Ross 2015, 328-9)

-“Initially, there was unanimity within the [US] administration and internationally that Hezbollah had provoked Israel….Unfortunately, Israel’s strategy was marred by unclear objectives and a misguided belief that air power alone could stop Hezbollah’s rockets. Following the pattern of past wars with Hezbollah—in 1993 and 1996—the Israeli attacks intensified, destroying Lebanese infrastructure and killing civilians while failing to stop the Hezbollah attacks.” (Ross 2015, 329)

“The Israelis were focused on reducing Hezbollah’s firepower and capacity to threaten Israel with rockets. In theory, this need not have been incompatible with helping [Lebanon’s Prime Minister Fouad] Siniora, but practically it was, particularly given Hezbollah’s strategy of embedding rockets and rocket launchers in civilian areas.” (Ross 2015, 328)


-“Since Israel’s withdrawal in 2000, Hezbollah and Israel had clashed sporadically….[Hezbollah’s Secretary General Hassan] Nasrallah had said again and again that Hezbollah’s primary military goal was to secure the release of Lebanese prisoners held in Israel and the return of Lebanese dead. [In fact, Hezbollah had negotiated a January 2004 prisoner exchange with Israel.] The way forward, he said, was to seize Israeli captives and trade them. [In a typical incident, Hezbollah fighters] attacked an Israeli military post in an attempt to capture soldiers. The Israelis fended them off, and not much came of the incident.” Nevertheless, Israel exploited a successful 12 July 2006 Hezbollah capture of Israeli soldiers to justify its invasion of Lebanon. Nasrallah had expected that Israel’s response would be similar to past experience. (ThanassisCambanis, A Privilege To Die: Inside Hezbollah’s Legions and Their Endless War Against Israel, Free Press, New York: 2010, 63.)

The desire within Israel’s “leadership to have it out with Hezbollah increased markedly in 2005 and early 2006.” Israeli officials had had to endure “Hezbollah’s taunting ever since their unilateral withdrawal from southern Lebanon in 2000” and thus desired to reestablish their deterrence power in the eyes of Hamas and Hezbollah in particular. (Norton 2007, 133)

“In leaked testimony to the Winograd Committee investigating Israel’s mismanagement of the summer 2006 Lebanon war, Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert admitted that the war had been carefully planned at least four months ahead of time…Facts such as that Hezbollah fired no rockets into Israel until after Israel’s savage aerial attacks…had begun, or that Israel had left unresolved for years the bitter issues of Lebanese prisoners of war and the occupation of the Shebaa Farms region, only generate more questions when one considers how easily negotiations could have defused growing tensions.” (Kfoury 2007, 157)

-“Whereas Israel launched the invasion primarily to undo the damage done by Hezbollah’s rout of it in 2000, the Bush administration hoped the murderous Israeli assault would ‘weaken Iran’s spreading influence’; ‘stick it to the Iranians who had brazenly intervened in Iraq and Syria and were assisting terrorist cells operating against the American army’; and, by ‘neutralizing’ Hezbollah’s fighting capabilities, prepare the ground for an attack on Iran.” (Finkelstein 2012, 51-2)

“In confidential discussions with the White House, Israel promised President Bush a ‘quick and decisive result’ that would end with Hezbollah’s demise.” (Norton 2007, 139)

-Hezbollah, as Nasrallah admitted on a 21 July 2006 broadcast, underestimated Israel’s grossly disproportionate attack: “strikes on roads, bridges, [hospitals, schools, densely populated areas,] seaports and airports throughout Lebanon…” “Even a member of [Tony Blair’s] cabinet, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Howell, was moved to declare, during a visit to Beirut, that it was ‘very, very difficult to understand the kind of military tactics that have been used…[If you’re] chasing Hizbullah, then go for Hizbullah. You don’t go for the entire Lebanese nation…’” (Norton 2007, 135, 138; Hirst 2010, 360-1)

“A UN Mission to Lebanon and Israel…acknowledged that ‘Hezbollah’s actual conduct was consistent with Nasrallah’s public statements’ that [Hezbollah] rocket attacks were retaliatory.” (Finkelstein, 133)

“[A]n exhaustive 249-page Human Rights Watch report…didn’t find a single case – out of 600 civilian deaths investigated – of Hezbollah using human shields.”

According to HRW “During the vast majority of the deadly [Israeli] air strikes we investigated, we found no evidence of Hezbollah military presence, weaponry or any other military objective that would have justified the strike…” (Finkelstein 2012, 135)


-“By way of background, in the summer of 2008, after intensifying Hamas rocket fire into Israel and tough Israeli reprisals, the Egyptians brokered a truce. It frayed, with intermittent rocket fire out of Gaza, but generally held—until December 19, when Hamas declared the truce over and proceeded to fire eighty-eight rockets into Israel. More were fired over the coming week, and in response, Israel launched a massive surprise bombardment, starting on December 27, against Hamas infrastructure throughout Gaza. The Israeli assault was the opening of a military campaign against Hamas in Gaza that the Israelis called Operation Cast Lead.” (Ross 2015, 338)


-In June 2008, “Egypt had ­brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas…­[that] was a success: the average number of rockets fired monthly from Gaza dropped from 179 to three. Yet on 4 November Israel violated the ceasefire by launching a raid into Gaza, killing six Hamas fighters.”

“In a document entitled ‘The Hamas terror war against Israel,’ The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs provides striking visual evidence of Hamas’s good faith during the lull. It reproduces two graphs drawn up by the Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center at the Israel Intelligence Heritage & Commemoration Center: The graphs show that the total number of rocket and mortar attacks shrank from 245 in June to 26 total for July through October, a reduction of 97 percent.”

-A respected study found that from 2000 to 2008, it was “overwhelmingly Israel that kills first after a pause in [a] conflict: 79% of all conflict pauses were interrupted when Israel killed a Palestinian” and that this pattern “becomes more pronounced for longer conflict pauses. Indeed, of the 25 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than a week, Israel unilaterally interrupted 24, or 96%, and it unilaterally interrupted 100% of the 14 periods of nonviolence lasting longer than 9 days.”

-Charles H. Manekin, an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland and a fellow of the Meyerhoff Center for Jewish Studies, wrote the following: “I spoke with an expert on the Israeli military shortly after ‘Operation Cast Lead,’ and when I told him that many argued that the operation was a reaction to Hamas rocket-fire, he laughed. He said that Hamas rocket-fire was deliberately provoked when Israel broke the cease-fire so that Israel could do a little ‘spring cleaning,’ deplete Hamas’s arsenal of weapons. He told me that this happens every few years, and that I should expect it to happen in another few years. Israel will assassinate a Hamas leader, Hamas will have to respond (wouldn’t Israel, under those circumstances?) and Israel will perform a ‘clean up’ operation. If Hamas is smart and doesn’t play into Israel’s hands, then Israel will also come out ahead, because it will be weakened in the eyes of the Palestinian public.”


-While Ross does claim that Palestinian negotiators regularly acted in bad faith, in his 408 page book he never refers to the Palestine Papers.


-“The biggest leak of confidential documents in the history of the Middle East conflict has revealed that Palestinian negotiators secretly agreed to accept Israel’s annexation of all but one [Har Homa] of the settlements built illegally in occupied East Jerusalem. This unprecedented proposal was [just] one of a string of concessions…”

The Palestine Papers, “A cache of thousands of pages of confidential Palestinian records covering more than a decade of negotiations with Israel and the US, [was] obtained by al-Jazeera [in 2011]…The papers provide an extraordinary and vivid insight into the disintegration of the 20-year peace process…”

“The documents…also reveal: [1] The scale of confidential concessions offered by Palestinian negotiators, including on the highly sensitive issue of the right of return of Palestinian refugees. [2] How Israeli leaders privately asked for some Arab citizens to be transferred to a new Palestinian state. [3] The intimate level of covert co-operation between Israeli security forces and the Palestinian Authority. [4] The central role of British intelligence in drawing up a secret plan to crush Hamas in the Palestinian territories. [5] How Palestinian Authority (PA) leaders were privately tipped off about Israel’s 2008-9 war in Gaza.”

“Most controversially, [the Palestinian negotiators] proposed a joint committee to take over the Haram al-Sharif/Temple Mount holy sites in Jerusalem’s Old City…”

“The offers were made in 2008-9, in the wake of George Bush’s Annapolis conference, and were privately hailed by the chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat, as giving Israel ‘the biggest [Jerusalem] in history’ in order to resolve the world’s most intractable conflict.”

“Israeli leaders, backed by the US government, said the offers were inadequate. Intensive efforts to revive talks by the Obama administration foundered [in 2010]  over Israel’s refusal to extend a 10-month partial freeze on settlement construction.”

“[T]he offer was rejected out of hand by Israel because it did not include a big settlement near the city Ma’aleAdumim as well as Har Homa and several others deeper in the West Bank, including Ariel.”

“The overall impression that emerges from the documents, which stretch from 1999 to 2010, is of the weakness and growing desperation of PA leaders as failure to reach agreement or even halt all settlement temporarily undermines their credibility in relation to their Hamas rivals; the papers also reveal the unyielding confidence of Israeli negotiators and the often dismissive attitude of US politicians towards Palestinian representatives.”


-It is up to the reader to judge whether the analyzed issues reveal Ross to be unacceptably biased toward Israel. However, considering the following concluding recommendations from his book, “propagandist” may be the most flattering label that can be attached to him.

In 2010, Ross told Secretary of State Clinton that Israeli prime ministers see informing American policymakers of concessions they may be willing to make to Palestinians “as a slippery slope: whatever they offer, they are convinced will be an opening for us to ask for more when it proves insufficient to the Palestinians.” To avoid this problem, Ross recommends that a US administration needs to acknowledge Israel’s fears by “offering assurances about what we will and won’t ask of them. In concrete terms, this means being prepared to recognize their redlines, while also making clear up front what we think will and won’t work with the Palestinians. If the Israelis can’t go as far as we think necessary, they should know at the outset that we won’t make the effort to mobilize pressure on the Palestinians to accept it. If, however, the Israelis are prepared to go as far as we consider necessary—for example, on the key issues of borders, security, refugees, and Jerusalem—and the Palestinians reject their offers, we must assure the Israelis in advance that we will not ask them for more—and then stick to it and publicly hold the Palestinians responsible.” (Ross 2015, 378, 400)

Furthermore, he recommends, “Because the Israelis need the United States’ friendship more than nearly anything else, and will always feel a basic insecurity, presidents would be well advised to have someone sympathetic to their predicament lead [high level discussions between the US and Israel].” One wonders who Dennis Ross has in mind for this high level appointment in the future? (Ross 2015, 402)


Jeffrey Rudolph was the Quebec representative of the East Timor Alert Network and presented a paper on its behalf at the United Nations. He was awarded the prestigious Cheryl Rosa Teresa Doran Prize upon graduation from McGill University’s faculty of law; has worked at one of the world’s largest public accounting firms; and, has taught at McGill University. He has prepared widely-distributed quizzes on Israel-Palestine, Iran, Hamas, Terrorism, Saudi Arabia, US Inequality, the US Christian Right, Hezbollah, the Israeli Ultra-Orthodox, Qatar, and China. These quizzes are available at,


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