The Freeman Center warns: Don't expect a fair and honest assessment from Ross, who has a marked bias toward procedure over substance. Peace treaties over real peace.
Reprinted from Ha'aretz of October 30, 1998
The Central Intelligence Agency will not make independent judgments on Palestinian security compliance during the 12-week implementation period, but rather send its data to the American political echelon, which will make final determinations on how to act upon the information, according to U.S. Special Middle East peace envoy Dennis Ross.
In closed-door briefing at the State Department for Arab-Americans and Jewish-Americans on Wednesday, Ross was asked specifically about whether the CIA will form its own judgments or just relay facts to superiors. The veteran diplomat left no doubts. "They (CIA) will report to us on what is happening and then we will make the judgments based on those facts," he said.
Another U.S. official said later that "Dennis will be the implementation czar," meaning that Ross will serve as an interpreter of the CIA data to the Clinton Administration, which will make the determinations on Palestinian compliance, and not the CIA agents in place monitoring the accords.
Thus, not only won't the CIA make its views of events public, its view will not be the last word within the U.S. bureaucracy in determining whether the Palestinians are fulfilling their security commitments during the 12-week period.
Israel has linked its territorial withdrawals to Palestinian security commitments, so it is important who evaluates Palestinian action. While Israel has never accepted U.S. judgment as binding, preferring to rely on its own IDF and Shin Bet assessments, as the honest broker in the Wye deal, the U.S. determinations would undoubtedly weigh heavily in terms of the international community. But despite the high regard with which Ross is held by Israel's highest echelons, the fact that it won't be the CIA's professional, but the political level, making the judgments, could raise questions in Israel whether the CIA findings will be politicized.
It is expected that either Ross or his long-time deputy Aaron Miller will remain on the scene in the region throughout the three month implementation period. Meanwhile, asked by Ha'aretz whether the CIA will release its findings to the public or issue data-driven reports on Palestinian compliance, James Rubin, the State Department spokesman, said there was no such plan to do either.