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Martin Indyk arrives, saluting Kerry’s ‘noble endeavor to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace’

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Today, as anticipated in reports last week, Martin Indyk came on as Secretary of State John Kerry’s special envoy for mediating the Israel/Palestine conflict, just ahead of resumption of talks in Washington. (We criticized Indyk’s lack of neutrality in this post; and AP reporter Matt Lee called him a “recycled” failure at negotiations here, then reported on the announcement here). Below are President Obama’s statement welcoming him, and Kerry’s remarks with Martin Indyk this morning.

Obama’s statement:

I am pleased that Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas have accepted Secretary Kerry’s invitation to formally resume direct final status negotiations and have sent senior negotiating teams to Washington for the first round of meetings. This is a promising step forward, though hard work and hard choices remain ahead.

During my March visit to the region, I experienced first-hand the profound desire for peace among both Israelis and Palestinians, which reinforced my belief that peace is both possible and necessary. I deeply appreciate Secretary Kerry’s tireless work with the parties to develop a common basis for resuming direct talks, and commend both Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas for their leadership in coming to the table.

The most difficult work of these negotiations is ahead, and I am hopeful that both the Israelis and Palestinians will approach these talks in good faith and with sustained focus and determination. The United States stands ready to support them throughout these negotiations, with the goal of achieving two states, living side by side in peace and security.

I am pleased that Ambassador Martin Indyk will lead the U.S. negotiating team as U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. Ambassador Indyk brings unique experience and insight to this role, which will allow him to contribute immediately as the parties begin down the tough, but necessary, path of negotiations.

Kerry’s remarks with Martin Indyk this morning:

SECRETARY KERRY: Good morning, everybody. Well, as you all know, it’s taken many hours and many trips to make possible the resumption of the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. And the negotiators are now en route to Washington, even as we speak here. And I will have more to say about the journey to this moment and what our hopes are after our initial meetings conclude tomorrow.

This effort began with President Obama’s historic trip to Israel and Ramallah in March of this year. And without his commitment, without his conversations there, and without his engagement in this initiative, we would not be here today. The President charged me directly with the responsibility to explore fully the possibility of resuming talks. And in our meetings with President Abbas and Prime Minister Netanyahu, he conveyed his expectations for this process.

Getting to this resumption has also taken the courageous leadership of Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Abbas. And I salute both of them for their willingness to make difficult decisions and to advocate within their own countries and with their own leadership teams – countries with the Palestinian territories.

I would also like to recognize the important contributions of senior negotiators on both sides, particularly Minister Tzipi Livni and Saeb Erekat, both of whom really stood up and stood strong in the face of very tough criticism at home and whose unwavering commitment made the launch of these talks possible. I look forward to beginning work with them tonight.

Going forward, it’s no secret that this is a difficult process. If it were easy, it would have happened a long time. It’s no secret, therefore, that many difficult choices lie ahead for the negotiators and for the leaders as we seek reasonable compromises on tough, complicated, emotional, and symbolic issues. I think reasonable compromises has to be a keystone of all of this effort. I know the negotiations are going to be tough, but I also know that the consequences of not trying could be worse.

To help the parties navigate the path to peace and to avoid its many pitfalls, we’ll be very fortunate to have on our team on a day-to-day basis, working with the parties wherever they are negotiating a seasoned American diplomat, Ambassador Martin Indyk, who has agreed to take on this critical task at this crucial time as the UN – U.S. – excuse me – U.S. Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. Assisting Martin will be – as his deputy and as a senior advisor to me – will be Frank Lowenstein, who has been working with me on this process from the beginning.

In his memoir about the peace process, Ambassador Indyk quotes a poem by Samuel Coleridge that begins, “If men could learn from history, what lessons it would teach us!” Ambassador Indyk brings to this challenge his deep appreciation for the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And from his service under President Clinton, Secretary Christopher, and Secretary Albright, he brings a deep appreciation for the art of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East. That experience has earned Ambassador Indyk the respect of both sides, and they know that he has made the cause of peace his life mission. He knows what has worked and he knows what hasn’t worked, and he knows how important it is to get this right.

Ambassador Indyk is realistic. He understands that Israeli-Palestinian peace will not come easily and it will not happen overnight. But he also understands that there is now a path forward and we must follow that path with urgency. He understands that to ensure that lives are not needlessly lost, we have to ensure that opportunities are not needlessly lost. And he shares my belief that if the leaders on both sides continue to show strong leadership and a willingness to make those tough choices and a willingness to reasonably compromise, then peace is possible.

So Martin, I’m grateful that you’ve agreed to take a leave from your post at the Brookings Institution to serve once again in this most important role. And I know that you are eager to get to work, as am I. Martin.

AMBASSADOR INDYK: Thank you. Mr. Secretary, thank you very much for that generous introduction and for vesting in me such important responsibilities. I am deeply honored to serve you and to serve President Obama in your noble endeavor to achieve Israeli-Palestinian peace. The fact that later today Israeli and Palestinian negotiators will sit down in this building to resume final status negotiations after a three-year hiatus is testament to your extraordinary tireless efforts, backed by President Obama, to try to resolve this intractable conflict.

President Obama made the case so eloquently in his historic speech in Jerusalem in March of this year when he argued to an audience of young Israelis that, quote, “Peace is necessary, peace is just, and peace is possible.” And you, Mr. Secretary, have proven him right. You’ve shown that it can be done.

I couldn’t agree more with President Obama. It’s been my conviction for 40 years that peace is possible since I experienced the agony of the 1973 Yom Kippur War as a student in Jerusalem. In those dark days, I witnessed firsthand how one of your predecessors, Henry Kissinger, brokered a ceasefire that ended the war and paved the way for peace between Israel and Egypt.

Because of your confidence that it could be done, you took up the challenge when most people thought you were on a mission impossible. And backed by the President, you drove the effort with persistence, patience, and creativity. As a result, today, Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Mahmoud Abbas have made the tough decisions required to come back to the negotiating table.

I’m therefore deeply grateful to you and to President Obama for entrusting me with the mission of helping you take this breakthrough and turn it into a full-fledged Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. It is a daunting and humbling challenge, but one that I cannot desist from. I look forward with great excitement to working with you, President Abbas, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and their teams, to do our best to achieve President Obama’s vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. I also look forward to working with the team that you are assembling, starting with Frank Lowenstein, who, as you said, has made such an important contribution to getting us to this point and who will be my partner in this endeavor.

Fifteen years ago my son, Jacob, who was 13 at the time, designed a screensaver for my computer. It consisted of a simple question that flashed across the screen constantly: Dad, is there peace in the Middle East yet? I guess you could say, Mr. Secretary, that he was one of the original skeptics. (Laughter.) But behind that skepticism was also a yearning. And for 15 years, I’ve only been able to answer him, “Not yet.” Perhaps, Mr. Secretary, through your efforts and our support, we may yet be able to tell Jake, and more importantly, all those young Israelis and Palestinians who yearn for a different, better tomorrow, that this time, we actually made it.

Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Thank you, all. We’ll see you later. Thank you.

Philip Weiss

Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of

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21 Responses

  1. Justpassingby on July 29, 2013, 3:00 pm

    When you thought this “process” couldnt get more biased and pathetic.

    Honestly with PA in charge palestinians will never get their state.

    • ritzl on July 29, 2013, 8:30 pm

      Or worse, they’ll get a “state” in name only, and that will be the declared, hasbara/lobby-enforced end of it.

    • Hostage on July 30, 2013, 7:45 am

      Honestly with PA in charge palestinians will never get their state.

      If you’ve read the declassified documents from the US archives, you’d know it really never had anything to do with the leadership on the Palestinian side.

      For all of his obvious faults, Abbas get’s blamed here for conspiring with Israel, when he simply fulfills the minimum conditions laid down by the Security Council, Emergency sessions of the General Assembly, and the Middle East Quartet for ending the occupation, recognizing his State, and obtaining UN membership. BTW, none of those things were final status issues under the terms of the Road Map.

      Even if there were a change in leadership, the US and Israel would simply refuse to negotiate with the incumbents, until they fulfilled those same criteria that require the arrest of any elements that plan or carry out attacks on Israelis.

      • Justpassingby on July 30, 2013, 2:44 pm

        It has everything to do with PA and of course Israel/US wouldnt negogiate with anyone else than their puppets in the PA.

  2. amigo on July 29, 2013, 3:39 pm

    “I look forward with great excitement to working with you, President Abbas, and Prime Minister Netanyahu, and their teams, to do our best to achieve President Obama’s vision of two states living side-by-side in peace and security. “indyk

    Unfortunately Obama,s vision of a Palestinian State does not match that Of Nietanyahu,s.

    But the you would know all that , would you not Mr so called honest broker.

  3. MHughes976 on July 29, 2013, 5:42 pm

    Well, the words used are even and balanced – peace and security for all, neither side evidently more important than the other. We’ll see what happens next.

  4. Citizen on July 29, 2013, 6:18 pm

    Really funny, if it was not so tragic and banal (see real ironic, serious literature, not something loved by Americans, not something Americans aspire to produce), Obama-Kerry-Indyk =status quo. This in turn, =more Israeli land theft, funded by US, supported by US diplomacy. Follow the AIPAC money trail, plus the complicit US mainstream media.

  5. Keith on July 29, 2013, 6:27 pm

    As for how Martin Indyk became the US negotiator, Franklim Lamb indicates that to re-start talks, Israel had some non-negotiable demands:

    “The second non-negotiable demand was that the White House appoint as Kerry’s Chief Negotiator at any Israel-Palestinian peace negotiation the Israeli born arch- Zionist Martin Indyk. Kerrey, not happy and under Israeli lobby pressure, agreed and will name Indyk shortly Congressional sources reveal.” (Franklin Lamb)

    As for the talks themselves, Norman Finkelstein has some interesting observations:

    “When folks like Jeremy Ben-Ami speak of the “two-state solution”, they are talking about two states divided by the pre-June 1967 border, with, they are always careful to add, land swaps. By “land swaps”, they mean Israel’s annexation of the major settlement blocs and giving Palestinians some territory in return. In fact the delineation of their proposed border is very clear. It’s the route of the Wall. Israelis speak fairly openly of the Wall as the “future border“, to quote Israel’s current Minister of Justice Tzipi Livni. That kind of two-state settlement precludes any possibility of a Palestinian state.”

    • Xpat on July 29, 2013, 10:40 pm

      Martin Indyk is Australian-American, Jewish and was born in England, not Israel.

      • SimoHurtta on July 30, 2013, 7:55 am

        First of everything else Martin Indyk is Jewish and extremely tied to Israel both mentally and professionally (= financially).

        If some kind of neutrality was the goal of USA why choose a Jewish ambassador to lead the discussions. If the choise would have been a Muslim and/or Arab the Jewish side would have made loudly known that it is not proper.

  6. Nabil Al-Khowaiter on July 29, 2013, 6:37 pm

    History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce.

    Karl Marx

    • just on July 29, 2013, 8:55 pm

      Sadly, most probably accurate, Nabil.

    • jon s on July 30, 2013, 12:43 am

      Nabil Al-Khowaiter,
      Nice to see a new commenter here, congratulations on your first post.

  7. BrianEsker on July 29, 2013, 7:42 pm

    Good luck to both sides and thanks to the US for trying to move forward on this.
    I think it’s a better idea than sending your children out to throw rocks.

  8. atime forpeace on July 29, 2013, 8:11 pm

    This peace process is a sad charade, a joke played on us all. I wish i didn’t know this was all a great game played on us, the feeling of being an unwilling participant make it comparable to being the victim of a crime.

    I compare this joke of a process to the one of how the Neocons pick their republican puppet for the whitehouse, remember the Sarah Palin story with Bill kristol discovering her while on a trip to Alaska, well now there is Chris Christie and Henry Kissinger, oy vey.

    ‘Two summers ago, after Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels decided not to run for president, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was summoned to meet Henry Kissinger. “When he called me into his office,” Christie told Washington Post reporter Dan Balz, “he just said, ‘The country needs a change and you connect with people in a way that I haven’t seen a politician connect with someone in a long time.'”
    Kissinger’s pitch is a highlight of Balz’s forthcoming campaign book Collision 2012. […] [Christie] told Kissinger that he honestly didn’t think he could run yet. 
    “I haven’t given any deep thought to foreign policy,” Christie admitted.
    “Don’t worry about that,” said Kissinger, according to Christie. “We can work with you on that. Foreign policy is instinct, it’s character, that’s what foreign policy is.”
    Emphasis mine (above and below).
    Hmmm, provocative governor with political talent but no foreign policy experience treated as a promising tabula rasa by establishment hawks….Where have I heard that one before?
    In June 2007, a cruise hosted by the political journal The Weekly Standard set anchor in Juneau, Alaska. Standard editors William Kristol and Fred Barnes then lunched with Governor Sarah Palin. It was a moment of discovery to equal Hernando Cortez’s landing at Veracruz.’

  9. Sumud on July 29, 2013, 10:27 pm

    In those dark days, I witnessed firsthand how one of your predecessors, Henry Kissinger, brokered a ceasefire that ended the war and paved the way for peace between Israel and Egypt.

    And how was that peace obtained Indyk?

    Israel exited Egyptian territory it had occupied in 1967 – all of it.

    Do you get it, yet???

  10. Rusty Pipes on July 29, 2013, 10:33 pm

    Livni mobilized AIPAC; AIPAC mobilized its donors; the donors pressured Democratic Congresscritters; Congresscritters pressured Obama (“if you want us to enact your domestic agenda, we’ll need funding to get re-elected in 2014”); Obama imposed Indyk on Kerry; Kerry’s best compromise was keeping his right-hand guy, Loewenstein, in the loop with Indyk.

    The two sides that trust Indyk are the Israelis and the Obama administration. The Obama administration can work with Indyk because he not only has the Israel Lobby stamp of approval, but the JStreet branch of it. Indyk wants a 2-SS because he wants to preserve Israel as a Jewish State and he sees the window closing on that option (even as the settlers and Israeli right are working to nail it firmly shut).

    Just because the Palestinians know Indyk well, doesn’t mean that they have cause to trust him. Why should the Palestinians accept America’s mediated efforts when the extent of Israel’s occupation has only worsened since “Barak’s Generous Offer?”

    • seanmcbride on July 29, 2013, 11:36 pm

      Rusty Pipes,

      Indyk wants a 2-SS because he wants to preserve Israel as a Jewish State and he sees the window closing on that option (even as the settlers and Israeli right are working to nail it firmly shut).

      Is there anyone naive enough at this point to believe that liberal Zionists like Martin Indyk, Dennis Ross and Aaron David Miller have ever believed in or sincerely worked for a fair two-state solution?

      Is the decades-long scam really by now that hard to spot — the endless empty promises, foot-dragging, stalling, etc. — combined with fending off any real pressure from the US government to achieve a peace agreement — while Israel has continued to expand its settlement program in Greater Israel?

      Liberal Zionists like Martin Indyk have in reality been working hand in glove with Likud — the deception is really not that complicated — you simply lie — say one thing, do the opposite — blame outside forces, fate, Palestinian intransigence, whatever for your deliberate failures — and hope that no one notices or understands your double game and calls you on it.

    • RoHa on July 30, 2013, 12:27 am

      “Just because the Palestinians know Indyk well, doesn’t mean that they have cause to trust him.”

      Yet another comma after a subject clause. This site is rife with them. Are there some deranged “English” teachers somewhere who peddle this?

    • Rusty Pipes on July 30, 2013, 2:53 pm

      Pressuring congresscritters is Track A. Track B is enlisting the aid of the presumed 2016 frontrunner and spouse, Indyk’s boss in previous peace negotiations. Hillary Clinton met with Obama yesterday morning after the announcement about Indyk’s appointment.

  11. Citizen on July 30, 2013, 5:57 am

    From FP’s the cable:

    “I think it’s problematic,” said Yousef Munayyer, executive director of the Jerusalem Fund. “Martin is more reasonable than many in Washington … the problem is that Martin does have a background on the pro-Israel side and if the U.S. is trying to establish itself as an even-handed mediator, that doesn’t help.”

    Still, Munayyer did not dispute the likelihood that Palestinian leaders signed off on Indyk’s appointment. “I think there’s a realization among the leadership of the Palestinians that Washington is a very pro-Israel place and on the spectrum of Martin Indyk and someone further to the right, it could be a lot worse,” he said.

    Meanwhile, support for Indyk on the pro-Israel side remains ironclad. “Ambassador Indyk has an important historical perspective on issues at hand, an understanding of Israel’s unique security needs, and long-standing relationships with the key decision makers,” said Josh Block, CEO of the Israel Project and a former AIPAC official. “If the Palestinians are ready to be honest with their people about the kind of difficult compromises these negotiations will require, and sincere about making peace with Israel, he could be the right person to help shepherd negotiations forward.”

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