Writing in the Boston Globe, Juliette Krayem argues that a "blunder" by Dennis Ross and David Hale helped convince Mahmoud 'Abbas and his advisors to proceed with their UN initiative. In a letter handed to the PA leader he was urged to take into account the massive increase in Israeli settlers in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
"According to Abbas’s advisers, a letter given to the Palestinian leader was the final straw. The letter has not been publicly disclosed by either party, but Arab media and commentators have zeroed in on a single reported sentence. In pushing for direct negotiations with Israel as an alternative to seeking UN recognition, the letter argued that the Palestinians need to consider Israel’s rightful security needs, as well as “demographic changes’’ that have occurred since the war in 1967."Perhaps Krayem is writing sardonically when she describe the phrasing as a surprising blunder. After all, one of the Dennis Ross' talents has been to channel the Israeli narrative. He is aptly described in a Times interview as an "ardent supporter of Israel" and his penchant for coddling Israel is hardly a secret.
"It’s a surprising blunder for a man with Ross’s decades of experience in trying to close the deal on the peace process."Krayem concludes with a call for "demographic change" in the U.S. diplomatic team.
"But whatever the outcome of the wrangling at the United Nations, the whole contretemps has served to weaken the United States in the Arab world. That is why Americans deserve to hear from their own envoys, Ross and Hale, about why their meeting with Abbas went so badly awry, so that everyone can judge what happened and make the necessary “demographic’’ changes to produce a new generation of American envoys."