US peace talks envoy Indyk said ‘hard to believe’ parties can reach agreement in 2012 interview

Envoy says concessions Netanyahu willing to make fall short.

July 31, 2013 07:37
2 minute read.
US Secretary of State John Kerry and Martin Indyk

US Secretary of State John Kerry and Martin Indyk 370. (photo credit: Reuters)


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A little over a year ago, just as low-level Israeli-Palestinian talks were getting under way in Jordan, Martin Indyk – named Monday as the new US special envoy to the restarted Israeli- Palestinian talks – said he found it hard to believe the sides would reach an agreement.

Asked in January 2012 by Army Radio’s Ido Benbaji whether he was optimistic about the talks, Indyk said he was not “particularly optimistic, because I think that the heart of the matter is that the maximum concessions that this government of Israel would be prepared to make fall far short of the minimum requirements for a Palestinian state that Abu Mazen [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] will insist on.”

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“It may be possible to keep the talks going, which is a good thing,” Indyk added. “But I find it very hard to believe they will reach an agreement.”

He was right; those talks fell apart a few months after they started.

Benbaji asked the State Department in a written query whether Indyk “changed his views of the matter prior to his new appointment.”

He received a written response Tuesday stating that Indyk said himself he was “proud to serve” US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry as the special envoy to the talks, and that “he admires their commitment to test the possibilities of peace.”

The statement, which danced around the question whether Indyk had indeed changed his mind regarding the prospect of reaching an agreements, said that the US understood that the challenges will “require some tough choices,” and added that “both sides have shown a recent willingness to make some very difficult decisions in the face of domestic political opposition.”

The response did not spell out what exactly those “difficult decisions” were.

“More broadly speaking,” the statement continued, “in Secretary Kerry’s meetings with our Arab, European and international partners, he heard their deep concern, both in the region and in many other parts of the world, to see a resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

While it will not resolve all the region’s problems, we believe that ending the Israeli- Palestinian conflict will have beneficial results not just for Israelis and Palestinians but for the region as a whole and for the United States.”

The statement, attributed to a State Department official, said that while the status quo might seem sustainable, it should be clear that “the longer it takes to bring about a peaceful end to this conflict the more and more difficult it will become to do so.”

Kerry, according to the statement, believes that as time passes, the situation will only become more complicated and more difficult to resolve.

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