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Tags: Israel | dennis ross | israel | benjamin netanyahu

Dennis Ross: 'Premature' to Write Netanyahu's 'Political Obituary'

Dennis Ross: 'Premature' to Write Netanyahu's 'Political Obituary'
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks before parliament votes to approve the new government on June 13, 2021, in Jerusalem, Israel. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)

By    |   Wednesday, 23 June 2021 11:34 AM

Former Ambassador to Israel Dennis Ross told CBS' "intelligence matters" podcast on Wednesday that former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could return from his ousting, but his attempts to "explode" the government of his replacement could backfire on him.

"I think that it's premature to write [Netanyahu's] political obituary, but I do think that the image, his image of being a magician, that he could always pull a rabbit out of the hat and somehow survive — that's taken a hit," Ross, who served as a diplomat in the Middle East with the U.S. State Department for over 12 years, told CBS. 

He added, "The more — as I said earlier, the more he tries to explode this current government, the more I think it makes him look more political and less like a leader. It makes the current government and [newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Naftali] Bennett look like they're trying to manage for the country." 

Ross said at one point that "because Netanyahu is now the head of the opposition and has so clearly stated he wants to bring down this government as soon as possible; just as he created a kind of a glue for this group while he was in power. So long as he's the focal point of the opposition and trying to bring him down, he creates a glue for them while they're in power."

He noted that Bennett "is someone who really represents, first of all, the next generation," being more than two decades younger than Netanyahu and having American-born parents who raised him partly in San Francisco.

"He is someone who served in Israel's most elite commando unit. He is someone who started two high tech companies, sold them both and made an enormous amount of money. He very definitely was on the right side of the political spectrum. He used to in many ways, press Bibi Netanyahu from the right. He was chief of staff to Netanyahu at one point."

Ross noted that those "who served with him in Sayeret Matkal," Israel's most elite commando unit, "they all say that he's actually very pragmatic."

The ambassador also addressed the recent conflict in Jerusalem and in Gaza, saying that "this is a classic case where technically this issue is viewed in narrow terms legally. Those who are pushing for it might be right. But when you deal with issues of Jerusalem, you want to be wise, not just right. And here's a case where there are two issues that will always create an electric response that takes on a life of its own when it comes to Jerusalem. One is evictions, displacement of Palestinians. The other is the religious sites." 

He went on to say that former President Donald Trump's policies helped "contribute" to the rise in prominence of hardline figures in Iran.

"I do think that the Trump policies did contribute to it, because here was the argument of those who said we can advance if we do deals with the with the Americans in the West. So they did the [Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action]. Everyone can debate whether this was the best possible deal or not. But from an Iranian standpoint, they lived up to it. Trump pulled out of it. They paid a price for it. And it undercut the arguments of those who said we can gain by doing these."

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Politics
Former Ambassador to Israel Dennis Ross said former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu could return from his ousting, but his attempts to "explode" the government of his replacement could backfire on him...
dennis ross, israel, benjamin netanyahu
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2021-34-23
Wednesday, 23 June 2021 11:34 AM
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