Indyk Quits, Bibi Delighted

Secretary of State John Kerry may be disappointed to see his Mideast peace envoy, Martin Indyk, leaving, but Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is delighted.

That’s the word from the Times Of Israel.  It quotes an unnamed Israeli official telling Channel 10 that the PM wants nothing more to do with Indyk. [The PM has a reputation for leaking such items through unnamed aides so that he can later deny them.]

Although Indyk and Kerry were accused of leaning over backwards to appease Netanyahu in the most recent U.S.-led peace effort, the PM was most upset that the envoy appeared to place disproportionate blame for their collapse on the Israeli leader.

But that’s not the only reason Netanyahu is pleased.  He never had much enthusiasm for the Kerry initiative and it now appears virtually certain that the Obama administration has thrown in the towel on any hopes it may have had for achieving an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement. 

Indyk is widely believed to be the source of a background interview by unnamed American officials in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot that was harshly critical of the Israeli leader and said Netanyahu’s aggressive settlement construction policy was “largely to blame” for the collapse of the talks.  Indyk took a more even-handed approach in public when he addressed the Washington Institute for Near East Policy when he said – quite accurately — both sides had “undermined the process.”

The fate of the latest effort was sealed in late April when Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas couldn’t  — or wouldn’t — reach an agreement within the nine-month timeframe set by Kerry or to extend the talks.  Each began pursuing a number of unilateral measures intended to provoke the other side.

An interim replacement for Indyk was named – his deputy, Frank Lowenstein – but most of the team is also dispersing. The State Department said Indyk would continue to advise Kerry.  Neither Netanyahu nor Abbas has shown much interest in making a serious effort for peace.  Kerry got a dig in at both men when he said the United States will be there to help “when the parties find a path back to serious negotiations.”

Kerry had much more enthusiasm for trying to revive peace talks than Obama, who’d mishandled the matter early in his first term and never quite recovered.

Indyk, a former ambassador to Israel and AIPAC alum will be returning to his previous job at the Brooking Institution, where he can be expected to write another book about the latest failure to find peace. Guess who the heroes will be.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.