Special envoy for peace talks said to blame Israel for negotiations failure.
By Barak Ravid | May 4, 2014
The U.S. special envoy for peace talks, Martin Indyk, is considering resigning following the blowup of talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and in light of President Barack Obama’s intention to suspend American mediation, according to Israeli officials in Jerusalem who are close to the matter. The officials asked to remain anonymous due to the issue’s sensitivity.
The officials said Indyk had already informed the Brookings Institute – where he is vice president and director for foreign policy – that he might soon be returning to his post, from which he took a leave of absence nine months ago. Two senior officials at Brookings approached by Haaretz with questions on the matter each responded, “No comment.”
In Jerusalem, it is believed that Indyk is the senior American official – anonymously quoted in a report published Friday in the Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth – mainly blaming Israel for the failure of the talks. According to the report, the senior official claimed that “the main damage to the peace talks comes from the settlements,” and that, during the talks, “Netanyahu did not move more than an inch.”
The senior Israeli officials said these harsh statements are an indication that Indyk is laying the groundwork for a resignation. Although they say Indyk has not made a final decision, it is believed it will not be possible to renew the talks in the near-future, and the fact that the White House does not want to invest further efforts in the process has reinforced the envoy’s desire to leave his post.
The atmosphere at the White House since the talks ended is reportedly one of deep frustration that major American efforts over the past nine months have ended in failure. A senior European diplomat who met recently with senior U.S. officials said Obama’s statement about a “pause” in American involvement in the peace process was very clear. “The White House has no desire to do anything now on the Israeli-Palestinian matter,” the diplomat said. “They are simply standing aside and not getting involved.”
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry is expected to return to Washington in coming days after a week-long visit to Africa. Meetings will then be held to assess the Middle East peace process, after which the American policy during the “pause” will be known and also whether the Americans will release the framework document they had been discussing with the parties.
Kerry hinted Thursday, during a press conference in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that he was considering releasing the document. “What has not been laid out publicly, and what I will do at some appropriate moment of time, is make clear to everybody the progress that was made. These eight months, eight months plus, were not without significant progress in certain areas. And I don’t think anybody wants to lose that progress,” Kerry said.
A senior U.S. official told Haaretz that Indyk had returned to Washington for consultations with Kerry and the White House. “Indyk has returned for consultations with the Secretary and the White House, as we assess the next steps in U.S. efforts to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. It’s premature to speculate on what those steps will be,” the official said, adding it was “inaccurate to say [Indyk] has spoken with President Obama or Secretary Kerry about plans.”