With Hillary heading State, will Obama reinforce her hardline views or will he balance his Secretary of State with a Middle East envoy who be more pleasing to J-Street than AIPAC? At the front of the line in the latter category is the affable Dennis Ross who, despite his mediocre successes and spectacular failures as presidential envoy, emerged as a "key advisor" to the president-elect during the campaign. Were he to be chosen for a lead role, you will hear a collective groan from the Middle East. Ambassador Dan Kurtzer, who is an impressive advocate for a realistic and urgent approach to Middle East peacemaking, is being touted as the alternative to Ross. Kurtzer would certainly be the wiser choice if the new president expects prompt movement in Arab-Israeli peacemaking to lead to solutions that both sides find palatable.
Much can change between now and February, but Israel pols are predicting that Bibi Netanyahu will win the coming election. Netanyahu spent much of his tenure as prime minister (1996-1999) trashing the peace process, while Ross and his boss Bill Clinton were nonplussed by the canny Bibi. Indeed, Clinton's ineffectual rejoinder to Netanyahu spelled the failure of the so-called "peace process". Ross had his test of fire during that period, when he might have urged Clinton to act more assertively vis-a-vis Israel, and he failed the test.
Obama team's warring Middle East views - Ben Smith - Politico.com