WASHINGTON – Palestinians are taking notice of the effectiveness of extremist, violent resistance movements against the governments of Israel and Iraq, said former US special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk in an interview published this week.
Speaking extensively on US relations with Jerusalem since the end of the latest round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians last April, and throughout Operation Protective Edge, a candid Indyk said at times US President Barack Obama has become “enraged” at the Israeli government, both for its actions and for its treatment of his chief diplomat, US Secretary of State John Kerry.
Palestinians both in Gaza and the West Bank “see Hamas resisting Israel and they see ISIS [Islamic State] using violence to establish its Islamic State over in Iraq, and all Abu Mazen [PA President Mahmoud Abbas] has to offer is negotiations as the way to achieve Palestinian statehood.
And negotiations don’t have any credibility anymore, 20 years after Oslo and with over 300,000 Israeli settlers in the West Bank,” Indyk said.
Responding to the interview, the US State Department – his former employer – said that Indyk is a private citizen who speaks for himself.
The former ambassador, a veteran of the conflict and enmeshed in its politics for over 40 years, said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s standard for an end to hostilities with Hamas – a prescribed return to quiet for quiet – “is not a victory and probably isn’t going to be attainable.”
Gaza has had “very negative impact” on US-Israel relations, he continued.
“The personal relationship between the president and the prime minister has been fraught for some time and it’s become more complicated by recent events.”
Peace talks ended in April without any progress after Kerry and Indyk forged an aggressive effort first for a comprehensive peace accord, and later for a framework for the continuation of negotiations, which the US never published.
Before resigning his post, Indyk gave a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy chiding both sides for their unwillingness to make political concessions. Israelis and Palestinians alike said that Indyk, and his team, shared in the blame, often contributing to a toxic environment for negotiators.
In the interview with Foreign Policy magazine, he characterizes harsh Israeli criticism from its political Right “hubris,” contributing to a “bubble of illusion” that the Jewish state is not reliant on the US.
Some of that criticism, targeted at Kerry during his efforts to forge a cease-fire with Hamas through Qatar last month, “enraged” the American president, Indyk asserted.
“It’s very hard to make the argument that America now has a strategic interest in resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” he said. But “if Israel becomes a partisan issue in American politics, the US-Israel relationship will then be weaker as a result.”