All Israel
FEATURE INTERVIEW

Poll finds few Democrats approve of Israel-UAE peace deal. Why? Former advisor to Obama, Biden talks to ALL ISRAEL NEWS

Amb. Dennis Ross worked for Presidents Clinton, Bush and Obama -- and Vice President Joe Biden -- on some of the most complex and controversial peace talks in recent history.

File Photo: Palestinian President Yasser Arafat (R) and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) listen as United States special envoy Dennis Ross speaks on the border of the Gaza Strip about an agreement the Clinton administration had brokered between the two leaders. (photo credit: Reuters)

JERUSALEM -- An exclusive new poll commissioned by ALL ISRAEL NEWS finds that 59 percent of Americans approve of the peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Yet the survey revealed a sharp partisan and racial divide.

  • 84 percent of Republicans approve of the peace deal
  • But only 39 percent of Democrats approve
  • 66 percent of white Americans support the peace deal
  • So do 52 percent of Hispanics
  • But only 36 percent of African Americans approve of the deal
Why?

To try to get a better understanding of what's happening inside the Democratic Party, I decided to turn to former U.S. Ambassador Dennis Ross, one of the most respected Middle East analysts and strategists in the United States.

Ross served as a senior advisor on Middle East policy to Presidents Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama.

He also served as a senior advisor to Joe Biden, the former Vice President who is now the Democratic presidential nominee.

Currently, Ross works with the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

ROSENBERG: Ambassador, how do you assess the significance of the Israel-UAE peace deal, and why do you believe the Emiratis decided to make the deal now?

AMBASSADOR ROSS: In the first instance, they saw unilateral Israeli annexation as a potential flashpoint. They believed that Iran and Turkey would seek to exploit any anger or blow back in the region, and they also believed it would likely spell the end of any hope for an eventual two state outcome. They came to understand that the only way annexation could be stopped was by the Trump administration and understood that offering peace for no annexation would be a win for the Administration.

The Emiratis understood, as well, that it would be a win for Israel but also felt it would be a win for them -- both in terms of making it easier to cooperate with Israel in multiple economic and technological areas, as well as putting the Emirates in a position where they could gain access to weapons that until now they have been denied for reasons related to preserving Israel's qualitative military edge.

President Bill Clinton, Dennis Ross and Secretary of State Madeline Albright. (photo credit: Reuters)

From the beginning of adopting that commitment to Israel, the Arab countries who made peace were always put in a different category than those who did not. Hence, when Egypt -- and later Jordan -- made peace, what we were prepared to provide them in terms of weaponry changed.

ROSENBERG: What, in your view, accounts for the striking partisan divide that our ALL ISRAEL NEWS poll reveals? As a lifelong Democrat, and one who has served as a senior advisor to several Democrat and Republican Presidents, why do you think so few Democrats approve of the agreement? Is this a reflection of Democratic animosity towards President Trump, or is something else going on here?

AMBASSADOR ROSS: I suspect there is an element of animosity toward President Trump, but also think there are those who continue to see the Palestinians as being the source of the conflict and they take their cues from the Palestinian reaction -- and they [the Palestinians] reacted very negatively to the breakthrough.

The Palestinians see it as a betrayal because they think there should be no normalization with Israel so long as they are under occupation.

I see the Palestinians failing to understand that the Emirates acted and stopped annexation; they created a linkage between their action and Israel acting toward the Palestinians -- in this case, stopping an Israeli action vis-à-vis the Palestinians.

Other Arab states can follow the Emirati example and take steps toward Israel while asking Israel to take positive steps toward Palestinians.

There is also a lesson for the Palestinians: others won't wait forever for them. They will follow their national interests and the Palestinians need to see how that can be used to advance their cause.

I have Palestinian friends who in private say to me it is time for the Palestinian leadership to look in the mirror.

ROSENBERG: What, in your view, accounts for the striking racial divide that the poll reveals? Why do African Americans give so little support to the deal?

AMBASSADOR ROSS: I am not sure. For some, again, they are more sensitive to the Palestinian position. I do think it is incumbent on those of us who believe the breakthrough is important and offers real possibilities for the future to make the case and explain why that is so.

ROSENBERG: Do you foresee other Arab states making their own peace agreements with Israel soon? Who do you believe are the leading contenders? Any chance of another deal before the election, an "October Surprise?"

AMBASSADOR ROSS: I don't think there will be a rush of other states. And, I do think some may want to move more incrementally or take more limited steps -- but that also creates the space for creative diplomacy to broker more limited understandings. I think Sudan and Bahrain are the most likely ones to act but they, and others, will also be looking for what they get from the United States in terms of security or economic benefits.

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