Indyk to be US Rep. to Israel-Palestinian Peace Talks

by Mitchell Plitnick

Martin Indyk is about to be named the US representative for the resuscitated Israel-Palestinian talks, according to a report from Israel’s Channel 2. (Though it seems Channel 2’s Ehud Yaari was not first with the news. That was actually the inestimable Laura Rozen at al-Monitor)

This says a great deal about the US role in the “peace process” and, indeed, the conflict in general. Indyk was the key force in founding the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which is, in essence, the think tank of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). In fact, Indyk went from working for AIPAC to working for them as WINEP’s first Executive Director in 1985.

He went on to be Bill Clinton’s special assistant for the Middle East and senior director of Near East and South Asian Affairs at the National Security Council. His government service culminated in appointments as US Ambassador to Israel from April 1995 to September 1997 and again from January 2000 to July 2001. Indyk was as central as any figure to the construction — and failures — of the Oslo process, the Camp David II summit in 2000 and the following years of downward spiral.

Having said that, I have met Indyk on several occasions and have followed his more recent work as Vice President and Director for Foreign Policy at the Brookings Institution in Washington. He knows the Middle East, he knows Israel and, unlike other key figures, has pretty decent knowledge of the Palestinians as a people and their leadership. And Indyk’s views these days are not exactly in line with those of AIPAC. If AIPAC’s views can reasonably be described as in line with Benjamin Netanyahu’s and Likud’s, Indyk would be closer to, say, Tzipi Livni or even the Labor Party. I believe he genuinely supports a two-state solution and recognizes at the very least that such a solution, to be sustainable, needs to meet the minimal requirements of most Palestinians and not rely on what the US might be able to force the PA to accept.

What that amounts to is that Indyk is probably the best representative we are likely to see from the United States. And therein lies the problem.

The inescapable truth is that Indyk’s baggage will magnify the already overwhelming pessimism surrounding the resumption of talks. Stephen Walt summed it up well in a tweet after this news reached the public: “Appointing Indyk as IP mediator is like hiring (Bernie) Madoff to run your pension. He had 8 years to do a deal in 90s and failed.”

Moreover, regardless of how liberal or more sympathetic to the Palestinians Indyk may be than, for example, former US Special Envoy Dennis Ross, he is still predisposed to favoring Israel in any negotiations. The Palestinians know this, the Israelis know it and so does every observer.

The key party who is well aware of Indyk’s bias toward Israel is, of course, AIPAC. The fact that Indyk is apparently being appointed to this position is a powerful indicator of the Obama administration’s determination to both renew talks and make sure they are conducted in a way that AIPAC does not object to. Can there be any clearer signal that the endgame of restarting talks was just that — resuming them without aiming for a resolution?

– Photo: Martin Indyk at the U.S. Islamic World Forum on May 31, 2012

Mitchell Plitnick

Mitchell Plitnick is a political analyst and writer. His previous positions include vice president at the Foundation for Middle East Peace, director of the US Office of B’Tselem: The Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, and co-director of Jewish Voice for Peace. His writing has appeared in Ha’aretz, the New Republic, the Jordan Times, Middle East Report, the San Francisco Chronicle, +972 Magazine, Outlook, and other outlets. He was a columnist for Tikkun Magazine, Zeek Magazine and Souciant. He has spoken all over the country on Middle East politics, and has regularly offered commentary in a wide range of radio and television outlets including PBS News Hour, the O’Reilly Factor, i24 (Israel), Pacifica Radio, CNBC Asia and many other outlets, as well as at his own blog, Rethinking Foreign Policy, at You can find him on Twitter @MJPlitnick.



  1. As usual, your insight shines through the P.R. that gets shown to the American public, in what the leaders want to be known. Failure seems to be the forte of any dealings in this regard. I wonder how much money has changed hands in this latest “KABUKI”?

  2. Moderator:
    (This is my second attempt to post a comment. Please explain why this was not posted today?)

    Who in their right mind these leaderless days expects Washington to put forward a change actor?
    Plus ca change!!. The more things change…

    Additionally, we’ve recently read that zionist investors (Melloul et al) bought a ‘hasbara’ channel to compete with real world news. Called I- 24 will broadcast in French, Arabic and English from Luxembourg. (Isn’t that conveniently close to ICC ?)

    Well, they can go ahead and spin themselves deep into a bottomless pit of hasbaRatty mire. But as
    recent polls revealed that nearly 30,000 global citizens rated Israel just above North Korea as most disliked. Hiring a slew of Indyks in their PR world will not do diddly squat to change REALITY.
    Not Kabuki…not Special FX…not all the psychoactive drugs TEVA can copy.
    The moral of this tale is CHANGE or die/disappear from the map of time.
    Nietzsche said it well:
    “The snake which cannot cast its skin has to die. As well the minds which are prevented from changing their opinions; they cease to be minds.”

  3. If the US actually wanted to see progress in the talks, we might hope that Indyk would be appointed the Israeli representative to the talks where he could represent a moderate position.

  4. It is astonishing that despite the fact that only 2% of the US population happen to be Jewish, with the exception of George Mitchel, all the arbiters appointed by the US to mediate in the Israel Palestine conflict have been Jewish. This choice, even if the appointees have an impeccable reputation for impartiality(however impossible to imagine) shall put the Palestinians in a defensive and suspicious mood.
    However in an administration that has had Rahm Emanuel and Jacob Lee, both Zionists and men with dual nationality (Israeli and US), as the president’s chief of staff–in reality gatekeepers for the Oval Office–anything else would be astonishing.

Comments are closed.