Martin Indyk speaks to Mehdi Hasan of Al Jazeera, on a show airing Friday night, on the question, “Should the US be neutral on Israel/Palestine?” Here are some of the quotes from the AlJazeera press release:
Former US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations Martin Indyk, a key player in US-Israel relations for over 30 years, has said the United States is “not neutral” and that it doesn’t “claim to be neutral” in negotiations with the Palestinians. He also said he does not think “anybody is under any illusion that the United States is in Israel’s corner. We don’t hide that… We shout it from the rooftops.” He also argued the US’s position is “not inconsistent” with being an honest broker, although this might be “hard to accept”.
When challenged by Head to Head presenter Mehdi Hasan about whether the US plays “Israel’s lawyer”, Indyk admitted “there were times when we did”, but reflected it is “not a role that we should play.” He defended his role as chief negotiator during the 2013-2014 Kerry talks, saying the US delegation did not coordinate with the Israelis in advance as it had done in previous rounds, and blamed Israeli settlement construction for the failure of the talks: “It was the settlements that screwed up the negotiations”, he said.
Ambassador Indyk also described the UN as a “very hostile place to Israel.” However, he said “it wouldn’t be a bad thing for the United States at least to abstain” in the upcoming UN Security Council resolution on Israeli settlements. This “would be huge” because “the resolution would go through.”
Here Indyk, now at Brookings, allows that maybe just maybe the U.S. should take some action against Israel:
Asked why the US continues to tolerate “being slapped in the face” by Israel – for instance, when it announced the construction of new settlements during Vice President Joe Biden’s visit to Israel – Indyk said Israeli officials should not be “welcomed in Washington” if they humiliate the US.
He explained that one of the reasons the US supports Israel’s security to the tune of 3.5 billion dollars is because it faces some real threats in the region, but asked about withholding any of the money in order to pressure Israel, he said that he “can imagine that some circumstances would arise. And it’s happened before and I don’t rule out that it would happen in the future.”
The Israel lobby “constrains what an administration can consider that it would do.” Really!
Discussing the power and influence of pro-Israel lobbying organizations in the United States, Indyk said the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), which he previously worked for, “is indeed a powerful lobby on behalf of Israel” and that “ there’s no doubt that its influence constrains what an administration can consider that it would do.”
Let’s see if I got this right: Indyk says the US is “not neutral” and “doesn’t claim to be” in the Israel-Palestine peace process, and it’s sometimes acted as Israel’s lawyer, and Israel “screwed up” the latest round of peace talks by building settlements; and there were no consequences to Israel for doing so. And Indyk once worked for AIPAC, which constrains what the White House can do; but he is also a longtime White House negotiator.
Something wrong with this picture? Isn’t it time that Zionist Jews lost some power over this foreign policy question? Or at least there were some Arab-Americans negotiating?
The marvel of this interview is that it is conducted by an international news organization, not an American one, but involves U.S. foreign policy; and a bias that is plain as the nose on your face to others is never explored honestly in American publications. Indyk was interviewed in England. Just as the Israel Lobby had to be published in England 10 years ago. While in our discourse, there’s a ton of prevarication over why those peace talks failed, including from Hillary Clinton, and the New York Times too, with all the talk about Palestinian incitement. (P.S. American revolutionaries were accused of incitement when they resisted the British crown in the 1770s.)