WASHINGTON – US National Security Adviser Susan Rice is part of a wing of the White House that considers Israel “more of a problem” than a partner, Dennis Ross, a former adviser to President Barack Obama, said on Friday.
Speaking to CNN, Ross was elaborating on a column he published the day before detailing a moment in time he believes things could have gone differently in the US-Israel relationship, now fraught with tension and animosity after a public fight over the Iran nuclear deal.
When the Joint Plan of Action, an interim deal that governed the nuclear negotiations, was first announced, Rice’s handling of Israel’s concerns were antagonistic, Ross asserted.
“Rice, reflecting her generally more combative mindset, would say to Abe Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, that in reacting to the Joint Plan of Action, Netanyahu’s posture was outrageous,” Ross wrote. “In her view, the Israeli leader did everything but ‘use the N-word’ in describing the president.”
Ross largely credits Obama with fostering the relationship over the course of his presidency, and blames Rice more for a lack of diplomacy than for the policy itself.
“It didn’t have to play out that way,” Ross continued, speaking of the rhetoric, and not the negotiations over the deal itself.
The column, featured in Politico, is a preview of Ross’ new book titled Doomed to Succeed: The US-Israeli relationship from Truman to Obama.
Ross has advised both Republican and Democratic presidents, and formerly served as US negotiator on Middle East peace.
In another section of the book, Ross writes that, during peace talks early on in Obama’s presidency, Netanyahu agreed in principle to an Israeli withdrawal from much of the West Bank.
Prodded by former secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2010 to say what he could do to advance peace talks and citing Israeli security needs, “he said that Israel could withdraw from most of the territory,” Ross writes. “He did not want to give percentages, but he understood what the Palestinians wanted, and if the Israeli security needs were accepted by us and met, he could be generally responsive.”