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Dennis Ross: Former Envoy?

Jonathan Schanzer

Barak Ravid from the Israeli daily Haaretz reports today that Dennis Ross, the State Department’s envoy to Iran, “will abruptly be relieved of his duties” and will be “reassigned to another position in the White House.”

The possible reasons for this abrupt departure are several. Iran’s recent re-election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad may have rendered Ross’ diplomatic efforts moot. Alternatively, Iran’s hard-liners may refuse to work with Ross, who supports Israel’s right to exist within secure borders. Yet another explanation is that Ross’ new book, which calls for military action or tougher sanctions against Iran if diplomacy fails, may have him at odds with the Obama administration.

One can only hope that Dennis stays on with the administration to advise the president, whose Cairo speech has shaken Americans’ confidence in his ability to craft sensible Middle East policies. I took issue with Dennis’ last book, Statecraft, and some analysts fault him for pushing Israel too far during the Olso years. However, his assessment of the Palestinian landscape, which he shared with the JPC in 2007, is spot-on.