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Dennis B. Ross (born November 26, 1948) is an American diplomat and author. He served as a special adviser for the Persian Gulf and Southwest Asia (which includes Iran) to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in the Obama admistration.
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- On the question of Israel, I talk about what I saw during his trip to Israel, how I saw his [Barack Obama's] understanding of the relationship with Israel - he would describe it as a commitment of the head and heart. He looks at Israel and sees us as being two countries with common values. But he also looks at Israel and sees that whatever threatens Israel also happens to threaten the United States. So we have a [common] interest, because we end up facing the same threats.
- With regard to the Iranians, we know that by not talking to Iran the U.S. did not improve the situation. Today Iran is a nuclear power - it doesn't have nuclear weapons yet, but in 2001 it was not yet able to convert uranium or uranium gas, it didn't have a single centrifuge. Now it's stockpiling highly enriched uranium. So the current approach of not talking hasn't worked. There’s no guarantee that if you talk you'll succeed, but if you don’t talk you will fail.
- You don't talk to Ahmadinejad. First of all, he’s not the decision maker. When Senator Obama suggests that he would be prepared to meet with him, he says such a meeting first has to be prepared. What he means is that you have to coordinate with your allies - all your allies. Secondly, it means you have to check whether you can put together an agenda for a lower-level meeting. If it becomes clear that you can’t put together such an agenda, then you don’t hold a meeting at a high level - the presidential level - because it’s not going to lead anywhere. But if you can produce something that you know will lead somewhere, then it’s silly not to do that.
- And in terms of the peace process, if you don't engage, then by definition, Hamas becomes stronger. We've seen that. Senator Obama won't deal with a non-state actor like Hamas unless Hamas changes its position, unless it's prepared to recognize Israel, unless it makes it clear [that] it gives up on terror, unless it's prepared to recognize previous agreements.
- "Dennis Ross on Why He's Working for Obama and How He'd Talk to Iran", Haaretz (October 23, 2008).
- In the past, I might have favored a cease-fire with Hamas during a conflict with Israel. But today it is clear to me that peace is not going to be possible now or in the future as long as Hamas remains intact and in control of Gaza. Hamas's power and ability to threaten Israel — and subject Gazan civilians to ever more rounds of violence — must end.
- Israel is not alone in believing it must defeat Hamas. Over the past two weeks, when I talked to Arab officials throughout the region whom I have long known, every single one told me that Hamas must be destroyed in Gaza. They made clear that if Hamas is perceived as winning, it will validate the group’s ideology of rejection, give leverage and momentum to Iran and its collaborators and put their own governments on the defensive.
But they said this in private. Their public postures have been quite different.
- "I Might Have Once Favored a Cease-Fire With Hamas, but Not Now", The New York Times (October 27, 2023)