Barack Obamaâ€™s senior adviser on Middle East issues declined to offer a timeline for achieving a two-state solution.
Former U.S. peace negotiator Dennis Ross told JTA on Thursday that an Obama administration would be actively engaged in promoting Israeli-Palestinian negotiations with the ultimate objective of achieving a two-state solution. But, he added, â€œengagement without illusionâ€ is whatâ€™s necessary.
â€œWeâ€™ll be engaged in an intensive way, not in an episodic way,â€ Ross said. â€œThe objective is to produce peace, but weâ€™re not going to produce artificial timelines. Weâ€™d like to achieve it as soon as possible, but weâ€™re not going to stake out something before we know what can be achieved.â€
One major obstacle, he said, was Hamasâ€™ control of Gaza.
â€œThere wonâ€™t be a two-state solution with Hamas controlling Gaza — it canâ€™t be,â€ he said.
According to Ross, Palestinians will not accept a division of the territories and Israelis will not accept a two-state solution with Hamas in control of Gaza. Given that reality, it would be a big mistake to offer up an immediate target date for achieving a deal.
â€œDonâ€™t stake out positions you canâ€™t meet because when you do that, one thing you do is erode your own credibility,â€ Ross said, adding, â€œWe canâ€™t be in a position where we continue to show how ineffective we are.â€
What the next administration can look to do right away, he said, is to become more engaged, bring both sides and Arab countries to the table, and start improving conditions on the ground.
The Archive of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency includes articles published from 1923 to 2008. Archive stories reflect the journalistic standards and practices of the time they were published.