Ross, Dennis B. (1948–)

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ROSS, DENNIS B. (1948–)

U.S. diplomatic envoy, born in San Francisco. A graduate of University of California-Los Angeles, Dennis Ross participated in the electoral campaigns of the Democrats Robert Kennedy and George McGovern. He began working at the Pentagon in 1972. Between 1985 and 1987, along with Martin Indyk, he was a member of the Washington Institute for Middle East Policy and a consultant to the National Security Council. He was a foreign affairs advisor in George W. Bush's presidential campaign. In 1988, after Bush was elected, he became one of the main assistants to Secretary of State James Baker, who was in charge of policy planning. A member of the presidential study group of the Washington Institute, he played an important role during the crisis that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. He and Indyk became artisans of the Israeli-Arab peace process. It has been conjectured that without Ross, who was thought to be the éminence grise behind James Baker, the Madrid peace conference of November 1991 would never have taken place.

When Bill Clinton was elected, Ross remained at the State Department, which was headed by Warren Christopher. On 18 June 1993 he was named special coordinator of the peace process in the Middle East. He undertook numerous trips to try to advance Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, participating in working out the final details of various accords. In September he attended the sessions which resulted in the Israeli-Palestinian accord on principles signed by Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat in Washington. On 18 September 1994 he was in Damascus, then went on to Tel Aviv to prepare for Warren Christopher's upcoming trip. On 12 July 1995, during a round of visits in the Middle East, he was received by Arafat in the headquarters of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza. In October 1996 he was in Israel to participate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations over the city of Hebron. In September 1998 he was in Israel again, trying restart the negotiations with the Palestinians, which had been blocked since Benjamin Netanyahu became prime minister. On 5 December 1999 he accompanied the new secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, on a visit to the Middle East at a time when Israeli-Palestinian negotiations were again stalled. Upon his arrival in Israel, together with Martin Indyk, undersecretary of state for the Middle East, he met with Arafat and then with Ehud Barak.

On 15 December he participated in Washington meetings between the Israeli foreign minister and the Syrian foreign minister Faruk al-Shara, which were meant to jumpstart the peace negotiations that had been interrupted since the spring of 1996. Between 13 February and 15 March 2000 he was in Israel several times to try to unblock the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations because the 13 February deadline for a general accord on the conflict had not been met. On 26 February he met with King Abdullah II of Jordan. On the following 2 May he participated in Israeli-Palestinian parleys in Elat, Israel, to speed up movement toward a general accord between the Israelis and the Palestinians. On 19 August, following the July failure of the Israeli-Palestinian summit at Camp David, he was in Alexandria to meet with the Egyptian foreign minister, Amr Mousa.

On 26 September he moderated a three-day secret Washington encounter between Palestinian and Israeli envoys in a vain attempt to restart the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. During November, when confrontations between Palestinians and Israelis were intensifying in the Palestinian territories, he was in Israel to meet with leaders of the two camps. At the beginning of 2001, after ten years devoted largely to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, he resigned as U.S. special envoy to the Middle East to rejoin the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

SEE ALSO Albright, Madeleine;Arafat, Yasir;Barak, Ehud;Camp David II Summit;Christopher, Warren;Indyk, Martin;Madrid Conference;Mousa, Amr Muhammad;Netanyahu, Benjamin;Palestinian Authority;Rabin, Yitzhak;Shara, Faruk al-.