Martin Indyk, far right, with David Ivry, Paul D. Wolfowitz, Ariel Sharon and Donald Rumsfeld at the Pentagon, March 19, 2001. (Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)
Richard Falk, writing for Al Jazeera—the Qatar-based, Qatar-funded mouthpiece for the ruling family of that kleptocracy—says that the naming of Martin Indyk as chief negotiator in the just-launched round of Israel-Palestine talks turns it into “yet another charade falsely advertised as ‘the peace process.’” Not true.
Falk goes on to propose a series of overtly pro-Palestinian folks who might have been better than Indyk, incuding Rashid Khalidi, but he himself says that the very idea is laughable:
Admittedly, having published a book a few months ago with the title Brokers of Deceit: How the US Undermined Peace in the Middle East, the appointment of Khalidi, despite his stellar credentials, would have produced a firestorm in Washington. Agreed, Khalidi is beyond serious contemplation, but what about John Esposito, Chas Freeman, Ray Close? None of these alternatives, even Khalidi, is as close to the Palestinians as Indyk is to the Israelis, and yet such a selection would at least be a gesture toward closing the credibility gap. Yet it remains outside the boundaries of the Beltway’s political imagination, and is thus unthinkable.
Which prompts the question: Why not Indyk? In this blog, twice already, I’ve expressed skepticism about Indyk’s value as a go-between, given his overt connections to Israel. But I’m willing to suspend disbelief, in part because, first, Indyk is hardly a Likudnik, and second, it’s Israel that the Palestinians are making a deal with. If there is to be a deal—and the talks are certainly not a “charade”—then it’ll be up to the United States to use its soft power, its Israeli connections, its military relationship with Israel and pretty much everything including the kitchen sink to push Prime Minister Netanyahu to an accord.
It’s obvious, of course, that it’s an uphill battle. But why dismiss it at the start? Why not work, from the outside, to create an atmosphere in which all parties give up their maximum demands?
Even Falk admits:
Perhaps, there was no viable alternative. Israel would not come even to negotiate negotiations without being reassured in advance by an Indyk-like appointment.
Interestingly, in The Weekly Standard, the hard-core neoconservative magazine that is often to the right of the Israeli government, Noah Pollak has published a harsh and suspicion-minded critique of Indyk, comparing him unfavorably to (who else?) Dennis Ross. Pollak’s critique is that Indyk is an opportunist, who backed Hillary Clinton in 2008 but who is now kowtowing to President Obama. Pollak also blasts Indyk for having supported Obama’s call for a settlement freeze in 2009: