(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former US ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, was challenged on several fronts concerning America's role in Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations during an interview with Al Jazeera Friday evening.
Speaking on the channel's flagship news program, Head to Head, Indyk was asked if the United States remained a viable, unbiased mediator in the years-long negotiations process given its annual $3 billion military aid package to the Jewish state, and what the show described as its strong advocacy at the United Nations.
"The United States is pro-Israel and that's what gives it its influence in the peace process," Indyk said in response to the opening charge that America was not an "honest broker."
"We are not neutral, we do not claim to be neutral," Indyk continued, referring to the US's position. "We have an alliance with Israel, but in order to achieve another interest that we have, which is peace in the region...and legitimate national rights for the Palestinians, we need to be able to influence Israel."
Indyk, who has been at the heart of US-Israel relations for "over 40 years," was also confronted with the argument that the US acted as "Israel's lawyer at the expense" of Palestinian statehood.
"That is not a role we should play," Indyk said in response to the accusation. 'It was a promise I made to the Palestinians, that we would not coordinate with the Israelis and agree with the Israelis in advance," Indyk's said of his tenure at the State Department under former US president Bill Clinton's administration.
"But in earlier negotiations you except the Americans did that... Camp David for example, in 2000," the segments moderator, Mehdi Hasan, quickly shot back.
"US officials acted as Israel's attorney's, catering and coordinating with the Israelis at the expense of successful peace negotiations," Hasan continued, quoting Indyk's former State Department colleague and fellow peace negotiator Aaron David Miller.
"Yes, I am pro-Israel and proud of it... but I am also pro-peace," Indyk said in response.
Indyk also "charged" during the interview that it was "the continued expansion of the settlements" in the West Bank that "screwed up the [peace] negotiations" in 2014.
Indyk echoed the sentiments of current US Secretary of State John Kerry, who placed blame on both the Palestinian Authority and Israel for failing to come to an agreement during a massive peace push initiated by his office over two years ago.
Kerry would later say during a speech at the Brookings institute in December 2015
, that a major factor leading to the failed peace negotiations was Israel's continued settlement activity, which suggested a government design for "unilateral annexation" of the West Bank.