Dennis Ross, President Barack Obama’s key Middle East advisor, said Thursday he would resign from his post, AFP reported.
Ross, a veteran U.S. peace negotiator, said in a statement that he had made a promise to his wife to return to private life after two years in the administration and had outstayed that promise by a year.
He added that he was returning to private life with “mixed feelings.”
“It has been an honor to work in the Obama Administration and to serve this president, particularly during a period of unprecedented change in the broader Middle East,” Ross said. “Obviously, there is still work to do but I promised my wife I would return to government for only two years and we both agreed it is time to act on my promise.”
Ross added, “I am grateful to President Obama for having given me the opportunity once again to work on a wide array of Middle Eastern issues and challenges and to support his efforts to promote peace in the region.”
Ross, along with the U.S. Mideast peace envoy David Hale, visited Israel in September hoping to avert the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral statehood bid at the United Nations. They were unsuccessful and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas submitted his statehood bid to the Security Council on September 23.
The bid has failed, however, after several member nations have announced their intention to abstain in the vote at the Security Council. PA officials have announced they will now be moving on to Plan B, and will seek an upgraded observer status that would give them access to key international organizations.
A few months ago, Ross called on Israel and the PA to understand the urgency with which they must approach the peace process, saying the recent Arab Spring has shown that the status quo in the region cannot remain and that the area cannot be static.
“At this pivotal moment,” said Ross, “the greatest risk of all is to sit back and do nothing. This is a moment with extraordinary promise. Isn’t it better to seek peace and to thereby discredit (those who seek to undermine Israel)?”
Following Ross’ resignation announcement, White House spokesman Jay Carney said on Thursday that Ross had played a key role at a “historic time in the Middle East and North Africa.”
Carney added that Ross played “a critical role in our efforts to apply unprecedented pressure” on the Iranian government and had also supported democratic transitions in the region, Carney said.
He said that Obama would continue to periodically draw on Ross’ counsel going forward.