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If ending the conflict is so important, why did Kerry choose Indyk with a record of ‘failure’? asks AP’s Matt Lee

Israel/Palestine
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Matt Lee, the Associated Press reporter, continues to make political performance art of the State Department’s briefings. Yesterday during questions about the peace process, he took on spokesperson Jen Psaki over Martin Indyk’s record of failure, about the whole team’s record of failure. He used these questions to undermine Secretary Kerry’s claim that the situation is not sustainable. If it’s so unsustainable, why aren’t they looking for “new blood,” as Lee put it. The video is here, over the first 10 or 12 minutes. Excerpts:

Matt Lee: Now, beyond logistics, when he announced or appointed Ambassador Indyk to this post, the Secretary said that the Ambassador knows what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the past. I’m wondering if you could elaborate a little bit. What has worked in the past?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I don’t – I’m not going to elaborate on that for you. I’m not a historian here.

Lee: Well, what did he mean, that the Ambassador knows what has worked and what hasn’t worked? Because I think any – if you look at what has worked and what hasn’t worked in the past, everything hasn’t worked.

MS. PSAKI: So are you asking me why this is different?

Lee: I’m asking you, one, why it’s different, but I’m also asking you, what does he mean when he says that Ambassador Indyk knows what has worked?

MS. PSAKI: Well, he knows that Ambassador Indyk has been involved and engaged in this process in the past. He has respect from both parties. That was a key priority for the Secretary in making this appointment – somebody who could run the process on a day-to-day basis. The Secretary knows he can’t do this on his own. So certainly – I’m certain there are many lessons that have been learned from the past, but I don’t want to speak for how he will use those moving forward.

Lee: Okay. But you can’t specify then what has worked, what Ambassador Indyk knows has worked in the past?

MS. PSAKI: I think there’s lots of things, Matt, that —

Lee: Can you point to a single – just, I’m just curious; I’m really not trying to be a jerk about this. I just want to know what example can you point to as being something that has worked in the past?

MS. PSAKI: I’m not going to read out for you their discussions of what lessons they’ve learned from the past and how they’ll apply them moving forward.

Lee: All right. The lessons learned from past failures– is that what you mean?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, if it had worked in the past we wouldn’t be pursuing this process right now.

Lee: All right. And then just my last one on this is: Does the Secretary still believe, as he said up on the Hill a couple months ago, that time is running out for a peace agreement.

MS. PSAKI: He certainly does. He believes that time is not our ally, which is why we’re working so hard on this issue now. As time passes, the situation on the ground becomes more complicated, mistrust deepens and hardens and the conflict becomes even harder to resolve. It allows for vacuums to be filled by bad actors who want to undermine our efforts. That’s one of the reasons why they have all agreed to focus on having talks not just for the sake of talks, but this is the beginning of direct, final status negotiations on a nine month – at least a nine-month timetable. They’ve agreed to work together through the course of that time, and the Secretary absolutely feels that time is of the essence…

Lee: So each time in the past that new talks have been announced, people from this podium and the White House and secretaries of state, presidents, have spoken about a new urgency and spoken about how the status quo is not sustainable. What exactly is it that’s different this time?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, I think we see both parties agreeing that time is of the essence and they want to move things forward.

MS. PSAKI: We’ll see —

Lee: Yeah, but that’s exactly what has been said previous – in previous iterations of this.

MS. PSAKI: Well, I think we have to give time for the process to continue and to work its way through. But I think the Secretary and others involved feel that this is moving in a positive direction.

Lee: This is the Administration’s third try at getting talks going. Was there any thought at all given to putting someone in the – at the helm whose past history is not that of failure?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, the reason that he has the relationships and I believe the confidence of both sides is because he has been through this before, and again, has – is eager to apply lessons learned from the past. And having somebody with that experience and the confidence of the President and the Secretary is vital in such an important role.

Lee: I’m not taking issue with the fact that he has experience. He clearly does, and I don’t think you can argue that experience is not of value here. But I just want to know, was there any thought given to getting some new blood into this process?

MS. PSAKI: Well, again, he will be working with a team of people. You heard the Secretary announce that Frank Lowenstein will be involved in – heavily involved in this. We’re also working, of course, with Phil Gordon over at the White House, who’ll be in a lot of these discussions. So he is the person who the Secretary and the President felt was right to lead this effort given his experience, and he’ll be working with a broad team of senior officials….

QUESTION: Sorry, can I just make sure I understood the answer to my last question about new blood? So the answer was no, there wasn’t any consideration of bringing people in, new people who haven’t been involved —

MS. PSAKI: Matt, I’m not going to get into the sausage making. But obviously, the decision was made by the Secretary, by the President, by the national security team that he was the right person for this job. He has the right experience for this job and he has the respect and confidence of both sides. Obviously, there’ll be a number of officials working on this process moving forward…

Lee: So quite apart from Ambassador Indyk, the other two parties to this, the negotiating teams, Tzipi Livni and [Yitzhak] Molho, Ms. Livni was involved in the Annapolis peace process which resulted in no agreement, Mr. Molho was involved in both of the previous George Mitchell attempts which were not good, and on the Palestinian side Mr. [Saeb] Erekat and Mr. [Nabil] Shaath have been involved in unsuccessful negotiations with the Israelis since Madrid. Can you explain to me how exactly you see this time that this cast of characters, all of whom have been at this for decades and not achieved anything, is going to make – is going to be any different?

MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, it sounds like we’re lucky to have decades of experience ready to come back to the table and make an effort to push forward.

About Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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20 Responses

  1. piotr
    July 30, 2013, 2:17 pm

    I guess that Indyk is a mere employee, so his role is secondary, unlike Kerry and Obama. What makes me more puzzled is the application of Heisenberg principle: if you know velocity exactly, you do not know the direction at all and vice versa. Didn’t Kerry determined precisely the velocity of the negotiations: they will take 9 months. (Why? A female was impregnated with the seed of peace?) And nary a hint where they will be going, except that the process will be secret.

    I could say that I have no idea how long these negotiations will take, but the direction: to nowhere, is easy to determine. Secrecy will allow to assign blame in a way that will satisfy all parties (expect several “narratives”).

  2. Bing Bong
    July 30, 2013, 2:21 pm

    “If ending the conflict is so important, why did Kerry choose Indyk with a record of ‘failure’?”

    To secretly scupper the talks?

  3. Citizen
    July 30, 2013, 2:21 pm

    Funny, like Hitler talking about bringing peace and justice to the world, which he firmly thought he was doing, yet totally tragic in the classical sense of head-up-the-ass Greek tragedy.

  4. James Canning
    July 30, 2013, 2:32 pm

    “The situation on the ground becomes more complicated.” Yes, Israel continues to build roads etc that will be part of Palestine.

  5. James Canning
    July 30, 2013, 2:32 pm

    Financial Times has good leader today on the I/P talks to begin talks.

  6. James Canning
    July 30, 2013, 2:33 pm

    I think we know Obama and Kerry went with Indyk to keep Aipac flak lower.

  7. amigo
    July 30, 2013, 2:35 pm

    MS. PSAKI: Matt, I’m not going to get into the sausage making.

    Despicable wretch sees levity in other peoples misery.

    MS. PSAKI: Well, he knows that Ambassador Indyk has been involved and engaged in this process in the past.

    Sure he has and that is why he is there again, because it failed as planned .

    MS. PSAKI: Well, Matt, it sounds like we’re lucky to have decades of experience ready to come back to the table and make an effort to push forward.

    Yes indeed, push forward into the Occupied territory to build Jews only Illegal Settlements.

    • Citizen
      July 30, 2013, 4:25 pm

      @ amigo
      I would bet my life Ms Psaki had no clue as to what happens to Palestinians daily. The other reality would be she does, and does not care so long as she’s got her career going on. There’s a phrase for that, courtesy of Hannah Arendt: “the banality of evil.” Who wants to bet Ms Psaki never heard of Arendt or her work?

      • amigo
        July 31, 2013, 6:44 am

        I would bet my life Ms Psaki had no clue as to what happens to Palestinians daily. Citizen.

        Oh yes she does.

    • pmb1414
      July 31, 2013, 2:07 pm

      Amigo, I would only add to your last sentence, “…until there’s nothing left on which to build a Palestinian state.” Kerry’s choice of Mr. Indyk is a clear indication that he’s a sycophant for Tel Aviv. The Palestinian negotiators will naturally be blamed for the talks’ failure. “We tossed them a few bread crumbs and they refused.” The American people will lap it up.

  8. Blaine Coleman
    July 30, 2013, 2:39 pm

    What’s needed is some Vitamin BDS:
    Cut off all aid, trade, and diplomatic relations with Apartheid Israel.

    Then, bingo – the Palestinian people will not have the same swaggering bully choking the life out of them.

    And the apartheid state will be abolished, exactly as it was in South Africa, the same way.

    Instead the U.S. continues to flood the George Zimmerman of the Middle East with massive arsenals, billions of dollars per year, and carte blanche to commit any atrocity that strikes his fancy. The result is exactly what you would expect.

    We can only hope that September will begin with boycott and divestment resolutions on every campus, aimed straight at the last apartheid state on Earth.

    • Citizen
      July 30, 2013, 4:29 pm

      Are you sure George Zimmerman is the accurate analogy? Does the Palestinian people’s conduct really mirror the crime going on in Sanford, Fla?

    • just
      July 30, 2013, 9:53 pm

      Agreed, Blaine.

      Nothing will work until they are hit in the pocketbook and the US veto is ‘disappeared’ from the UN.

      1S1P1V.

      Time to sanction the hunter/victim Zionists.

      • James Canning
        July 31, 2013, 1:57 pm

        @just – – Will the many stooges of the Israel lobby in US Congress allow an American president to allow UNSC resolutions against Israeli colonisation of West Bank? Etc etc etc.

  9. American
    July 30, 2013, 4:16 pm

    ”It allows for vacuums to be filled by bad actors who want to undermine our efforts. >>>>>

    Bring on the ‘bad actors’ then…….maybe they can settle it…..the US sure as hell wont.

  10. Rusty Pipes
    July 30, 2013, 5:34 pm

    Shorter Psaki: Matt, I’m not authorized to tell you anything substantive about why, after several days of stalling, Kerry finally acquiesced to taking Indyk onto his team. We’re just hoping that Loewenstein can prevent him from doing too much damage. I’m just obliged to talk about Indyk’s experience so that Kerry doesn’t look too humiliated.

  11. MRW
    July 30, 2013, 8:11 pm

    Shoutout to Hostage: What’s the UN/Palestine deal in September that this Kabuki dog-and-pony is calculated to help deflect?

  12. Mondowise
    July 31, 2013, 4:02 am

    it ISN’T important for the izraeli regime to end the conflict, they don’t want peace. they are criminal war-mongers and thrive on conflict in their blood-driven quest to expand. in fact, that Kerry intentionally chose a pro-izraeli zionist team will assuredly add fuel to the fire when Palestinians get screwed, again! only this time, the Palestinians will revolt. i think the PA will sell the Palestinian people out on some joke of a pathetic peace process which gives Palestinians nothing as always IF talks even get that far, and a massive 3rd intifada will result.

  13. Hostage
    July 31, 2013, 1:23 pm

    What’s the UN/Palestine deal in September that this Kabuki dog-and-pony is calculated to help deflect?

    For starters, most people conflate the UN with the ICC, which is not an organ of the United Nations at all. Secondly, this is the third or fourth deadline that Obama has set for implementing the two state solution. So there still might be a train wreck in September. The last deadline expired without any map of the State the Israelis want the Palestinians to accept and the talks collapsed in a matter of days.

    The Jerusalem Post is running what should be the big story here in that connection: “Senior US officials: Palestinian referral of Israel to ICC unlikely while talks last” – Officials suggest ICC issue was addressed before talks began, but caution there are no guarantees on the topic.
    http://www.jpost.com/Diplomacy-and-Politics/US-senior-officials-Palestinian-referral-of-Israel-to-ICC-unlikely-while-talks-last-321561

    Of course you can let your imagination run wild with all of the things that the Palestinians might include in the text of a multilateral follow-up request from the General Assembly for another ICJ advisory opinion. I’ve seen a number of stories in which Kerry and company admit that they need to make real progress before September, or the Palestinians will go ahead with their plans in the UN.

  14. Blank State
    August 1, 2013, 12:20 am

    So being good at failure is a requisite resume for inclusion in the “Peace Process”.

    Ms Psaki couldn’t have made a bigger jackass of herself if she would have simply brayed every time Lee posed a question.

    Ms Psaki: “Heehaw, heehaw, heehaw……..”

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