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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  • 20.
    Creating a need for "'gut wrenching compromises'"
    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!
  • 19.
    Annexing Judea and Samaria , and providing citizenship to Palestinians in a democratic state is the solution.
  • 18.
    Arab Settlers can stay in yesha but they must not harm the Land's Original Jewish inhabitants
    Peace is very important.
  • 17.
    Land theft is condoned by Bibi's cabal
    As long as land grabbing continues Israel is on a self-destruct course. Let ICC and BDS do their work.
  • 16.
    indyks never really understood the palestinians long term other diplomats, he naively thinks if only israel gives more...
    then real peace will follow...and its completely naïve thinking.
  • 15.
    Leftists who want to hand Palestinians a state try to frighten Israel into concessions with bi-national state.
    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.
  • 14.
    When military aid was suspended during the Egypt negotiations, Israel felt the urgency
    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.
  • 13.
    Indik needs to explain which he considers "B" nation in thie bi. Racism of US Administration
    makes Ku - Klus - Klan look like a rowdy bunch on a child party.
  • 12.
    These gut-wrenching compromises will only lead to gut-spilling
    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.
  • 11.
    Talk of settlements being the obstacle to peace is nonsenese
    What difference does it make, or will make, if a settlement has 25,000 residents instead of 15,000? When the major issues have been resolved and all that remains is what to do with this settlement or that settlement, the numbers will be irrelevant. This means that the Palestinian narrative that adding a few more houses to an existing settlement is what is holding up the peace process, is utter bull crap. The Palestinians do not want to compromise with the Jewish people. They want everything on a plate. They want the Jewish people on their knees.
  • 10.
    The former AIPAC man comes to the conclusion that both sides have to give. He condemns settlements, but would never.....
    cut the strong military bonds which have existed and will continue to exist between the US and Israel. Cutting the military bonds would otherwise convince Israel, that now it is serious. Now it is not serious. The US gave all the means to Israel to occupy and oppress. Israels land theft was the dispossession to be suffered by the Palestinians. It is an unequal game and still blame, shame and compromise has to be shared equally? Are the Indyks of this world the right people to facilitate a just peace in the region??? It is more than doubtful. Kissingers approach would be more effective.
  • 9.
    We mudt disasble this infrastructure of hate that perfers hate and conflict to the responcibilities of peace.
  • 8.
    Hopeless case from the very beginning !
    if both leaders had no sense of urgency, why did Americans start a negotiation ?
  • 7.
    History is full of zealots leading their peoples, like lemmings, over the cliff.
    Netanyahu is one such man. He is determined to leave his name in the Jewish history page, most likely in the chapter of ill conceived disasters. Still we reap what we sow, and history never fails to repeat iself. Nations come and go. Those who want everything invariably end up with nothing.
  • Yes, like Abbas the Holocaust Denier
  • 6.
    Arabs Are Welcome to Stay in Israel and Have Civil Autonomy
    Right now we have close to a binational state anyway. We have Israel and in Israel there exist the Palestinian Authority. The PA can continue to control areas A, and Israel will continue to control area C and patrol Area B. Two people in one state. Gaza can be completely independent and the PLO/Hamas seat of power can be there with full autonomy. No terror, no violence, so no need for IDF checkpoints, just two people living in peace! Lets do it!
  • What you are suggesting is Apartheid. It won't fly!
  • Chaim
    Let's ask the Palestinians......they disagree with you. They want full independance on their land. Thanks for your help Chaim. We do not need you, your army, your settlers anymore. Go home and stay there. You do not decide for the Palestinians. THEY DO.
  • Please, Ben Kahan give in depth definition of what you think "civil autonomy" is when it comes to equality and rights.
    Please, Ben Kahan give in depth definition of what you think "civil autonomy" is when it comes to equality and rights.
  • living in peace?
    Listen, once and for all, there will not be two peoples living in peace until Palestine gets established for Palestinians, and Israel remains established for Israelis, without any theft of land and resources by Israel. Otherwise, no peace! "Let's do it!"
  • You mean citizenship and freedom of movement?
    What about the political rights and freedom of movement of the Palestinians? Can they vote in Israeli elections if they are under its control? Or are you hinting at apartheid reality?
  • And would you give the arabs the vote? If not, then u have apartheid.
  • re chaim
    Civil autonomy was granted to the South African Blacks in their Bantustans. Whom do you think you can deceive with this crap?
  • Chaim BnnKhan
    Oslo failed that is certain and we need to start being inventive and looking for new solutions but you cannot give civil autonomy to millions you have to give them full citizenship with full voting rights. Do that and the first election after they get their citizenship we will have an arab government and an arab PM because jews vote for a variety of parties the arabs would unify themselves so they could seize power for the first time. DAY 1 - citizenship is granted DAY 2 - the demographic balance now has the arabs equaling the Jews so we can no longer justify the Jewish state concept DAY 3 - we end things like alliyah because thats discriminatory in a binational state. DAY 4 - arabs com to power and start to dismantle every Jewish institution there is including things like the JNF. We cannot have Jewish state business as usual in a binational state. Ce cannot create a situation where we give the arabs any kind of rights, remember once the US turn on us and call for binationalism which they will in time especially with Obama running the show then its all over because we will have no allies, we cannot even call for 2 states once the US has stated it supports binationalism. We need to find a new solution thats not binationalism or the failed oslo model. This situation was not created by israel it was created by the do gooders who wanted to give Abbas UN membership because since he got his upgrade he has gone from being politician looking for a solution to becoming an emperor going around dictating terms to even the US and getting away with it.
  • Really? You think the status quo can continue under another guise?
    Palestinians will not tolerate Israeli aggression or oppression any more. They will seek their Independence through the international community, if Israel remains hostile to that, tough luck on them!
  • What you propose is self delusion
    Palestinians are yearning for freedom ,not the arrangement you proposed and not all is well with the status quo.
  • Only one element missing
    Full freedom and equality of all citizens, which implies freedom of movement, freedom of organization and respect for property. With that missing all you say is distraction of the truth
  • I'm sure I'm ot the first to point this out but...
    I'm sure you imply that there will be an end to apartheid and discrimination against Palestinians and a restoration to villages and individuals of their lands and homes in East Jerusalem and the West Bank and: 1. "Area's A, B, and C" are under international law not in Israel. 2. This solution ignores more than a million Palestinian refugees and their families. Would you compensate the ethnically cleansed for their losses within current day Israel? 3. It ignores the historic and familial links among Palestinians in Gaza, the occupied West Bank, and those living elsewhere. 4."No terror, no violence: How can Israel continue to control Area C and Patrol Area B of Palestine and guarantee an end to the terror and violence inflicted on Palestinians living in that part of Palestine?
  • and you zios just keep stealing land in peace?
  • What freedom is there in a theocracy? Only in democratic Israel Muslims 'd have freedom and human rights
  • 5.
    Prior to 1967, there were no settlements. Heck, back in 1929 the state didn't even exist. This didn't stop Arabs from mass-murdering Jews then and it won't now. Building homes isn't preventing peace. The Arabs refuse to accept our existence, period.
  • 4.
    SAY it, Martin. It VIOLATES the Road Map Agreement.
    How can Israel pretend it wants to negotiate in good faith when it is busy violating the last peace agreement even as we speak?
  • 3.
    Indyk's bias
    Indyk is more concerned about Israel than he is about justice or international law.
  • 2.
    "COULD"? It's ALREADY one!
    Secondly, this attempt to blame both sides is getting tired. Israel is the side not willing to make peace, as even the notoriously pro-Israel biased Americans negotiators made plain. Shimon Peres even had Abbas accepting Israel as a Jewish state back in 2011 but Netanyahu killed the negotiations. It's time to accept what was always true: Israel doesn't want a 2SS because it wants ALL the territory.
  • 1.
    Illegal settlements are gut wrenching for Palestinians
    they are losing too much every day. Is this Israel's way to peace? Not going to happen.