The Obama administration’s special envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process escalated his attacks on Israel in a speech last night, accusing Israel of intentionally sabotaging the peace process and expressing support for the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
Martin Indyk, deputized by Secretary of State John Kerry as special envoy, has been identified by the Washington Free Beacon as the source of a recent series of anonymous quotes in the press from a “U.S. official” condemning Israel and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.
Indyk appeared to confirm his role in the leaks, responding to a questioner who raised the matter of the anonymous quotes by joking, “I’d never disagree” with “a senior unnamed American official.” Indyk and the audience laughed.
During the question and answer period of his talk, Indyk accused the Netanyahu government of intentionally undermining the peace talks through announcements of settlement plans.
Despite a cessation of settlement announcements not being a precondition for negotiations, Indyk said they had “a dramatically damaging impact on the negotiations,” were “a humiliation” for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, and that the announcements were “intended to have that damaging effect.”
Elliott Abrams, a top national security adviser for former President George W. Bush, slammed Idyk’s remarks in a recent article, referring to his comments as “meaningless and misleading.”
“There is no ‘rampant’ expansion or ‘large scale land confiscation’ for settlements,” Abrams wrote in the Weekly Standard.
Indyk, during a question and answer session, was asked whether the Palestinian Authority should have to recognize Israel as a Jewish state, a key Israeli demand intended to guarantee that the Palestinians do not attempt to subvert the legitimacy of Israel’s character as a Jewish state after a peace deal is reached.
Indyk sided with the Palestinians, saying that such recognition could come after a Palestinian state is created. “I believe that once the Palestinians come to understand what their state will look like and when they will get it, that this issue will become much less important and, and solvable,” he said. Israel has placed the issue of recognition as one of the first that must be resolved.
Indyk added that he thinks Abbas has become “more focused on succession now than making peace” because “he came to the conclusion that he didn’t have a reliable partner for the kind of two-state solution that he was looking for.”