Indyk: Settlements could drive Israel into binational reality - Diplomacy and Defense - Haaretz Daily Newspaper | Israel News

Indyk: Settlements could drive Israel into binational reality

Special U.S. envoy to ME peace talks says that neither side feels 'the pressing need to make gut-wrenching compromises.'

Martin Indyk, center, with Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erkat, left, and John Kerry. / Photo by AP
By Haaretz
Published 05:14 09.05.14

U.S. special envoy to the Middle East peace talks Martin Indyk issued a strong condemnation of Israel's settlement activity in the West Bank on Thursday night, saying that it could "drive Israel into an irreversible binational reality."

"Rampant settlement activity – especially in the midst of negotiations – doesn’t just undermine Palestinian trust in the purpose of the negotiations; it can undermine Israel’s Jewish future," he said. "If this continues, it could mortally wound the idea of Israel as a Jewish state – and that would be a tragedy of historic proportions."

Indyk was speaking at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy's founders' conference, where he gave a review of the nine months of peace talks.

In a carefully nuanced speech that blamed and praised both sides equally, the U.S. envoy said that, while both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas had shown flexibility in the talks, the leaders "don't feel the pressing need to make gut-wrenching compromises."

If the U.S. is the only party with a sense of urgency, "the negotiations will not succeed," he said.

"The fact is both the Israelis and Palestinians missed opportunities, and took steps that undermined the process," Indyk stated. "We have spoken publicly about unhelpful Israeli steps that combined to undermine the negotiations. But it is important to be clear: We view steps the Palestinians took during the negotiations as unhelpful too."

Indyk's objective seemed to be the same as that of visiting U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice, who met both Netanyahu and Abbas earlier in the day: To prevent the situation deteriorating further and coax the sides back into negotiations.

"It is critical that both sides now refrain from taking any steps that could lead to an escalation and dangerous spiral that could easily get out of control," he said. "Thus far since the negotiations been suspended they have both shown restraint and it is essential that this continue."

Comparing the current negotiations with former secretary of state Henry Kissinger's peace-making with Egypt, Indyk said that American President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry would never suspend military relations with Israel as Kissinger had done. "Those military relations are too important for both our nations," he said.

He added that the U.S.-Israel relationship had changed dramatically since Kissinger's day. "Only those who know it from the inside – as I have had the privilege to do – can testify to how deep and strong are the ties that now bind our two nations. When President Obama speaks with justifiable pride about those bonds as 'unbreakable' he means what he says."

Indyk said that he had seen many hopeful signs during the course of the negotiations – "moments of recognition by both sides of what is necessary." But it had not been enough to bring the talks to a successful conclusion.

"I have seen moments when both sides talked past each other without being able to recognize it," he said. "But I have also seen moments of genuine camaraderie and engagement in the negotiating room to find a settlement to these vexing challenges."

Indyk concluded by saying that he didn't know if or when the talks would resume, but he hoped that it would be soon.

"When [Netanyahu and Abbas] are ready, they will certainly find in Secretary Kerry and President Obama willing partners in the effort to try again – if they are prepared to do so in a serious way."


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  • 9.
    A Middle-East Surcharge Income Tax for Americans who are Jewish or Muslim or same foreign nationals on visas and corporations / entities who do business with the United States. This proportional income tax would remain in full force until: 1. ALL Muslim nations recognize Israel as the Jewish state with Jerusalem as its undivided capitol. ALL Muslim nations will establish full consular and diplomatic missons in Jerusalem. ALL Muslim nations (Israel currently has such legislation) will mandate and enforce hate crime and rhetoric laws against inciteful language, publications and other media directed against Jews and other religious minorities who reside in their countries. 2. Israel agrees to recognize a Palestinian state that - except for Jerusalem - esblaishes boundaries as of June 1, 1967. The Jewish settler communities created since that time can remain - but under Palestinian governance. Gut-wrenching indeed!
  • 8.
  • 7.
    Peace is very important.
  • 6.
    As long as land grabbing continues Israel is on a self-destruct course. Let ICC and BDS do their work.
  • 5.
    then real peace will follow...and its completely naïve thinking.
  • 4.
    Israelis are looking for an acceptable peace agreement which is not to be had because neither side is ready to cross their many red lines. It may suit the the interests of the US and EU and the conscience of the far-left to hand the Palestinians a state but mainstream Israelis will not do it just to get some good temporary public relations. Their security and culture count for more than that.
  • 3.
    to get something done. Unlike today, this so called "unbreakable" bond does nothing in terms of peace talks with the Pals. Unless Israel is made to feel the pain that aid will be cut off, the have no incentive to negotiate.
  • 2.
    makes Ku - Klus - Klan look like a rowdy bunch on a child party.
  • 1.
    Please explain how giving the hills over-looking our heavily populated centre (Tel Aviv and the Sharon) will bring peace to Israel? Will a piece of paper really bring about a different reality than what the the south has to deal with the Gaza Strip? Bringing "Gaza" to the back-door of our centre is suicide for Israel.