Dennis Ross to JTA: No “split” with Obama

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Former White House Iran strategist Dennis Ross has denied a report that he is distancing himself from President Obama’s Middle East policies.

“The idea of trying to get a sense that there is a split with the president is completely untrue,” Ross told the Jewish Telegraph Agency (JTA) Tuesday.

Ross stepped down from the White House in December 2011 after serving three years in the Obama White House and returned to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. The Washington Institute does not allow employees to work for political campaigns, and he has run out of leave he can take from the Institute while serving in the administration, he told JTA.

The Daily Beast reported Sunday that Ross’s absence from the campaign was a sign of his distancing himself from Obama’s Middle East policies that would be noted by pro-Israel American voters.

Ross told Al Monitor by email Sunday that such an interpretation was “spinning.”

Indeed, he continues to advise the White House and National Security Council on Iran policy. “I’m asked to give my advice from time to time [to the White House], and I give it,” he further told JTA. “I’m supportive of the president.”

“The one thing Israel cannot be or should not be is a partisan issue,” Ross told JTA. “Anyone who wants to turn it into a partisan issue is not helping Israel.”

(Photo: President Obama with Dennis Ross, third from right, in 2010. Pete Souza / The White House)