Martin Indyk, 62, has recently been appointed the United States representative for peace talks in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Indyk has held a variety of high positions within the political world including being Special Assistant to President Bill Clinton. Indyk, the former US ambassador to Israel, was born Jewish. This has led some to believe that he would be pro-Israel and therefore a good acquisition on board for the peace talks on the Israeli side. On the other hand, some of his previous remarks and allegiances regarding Israel can be interpreted as biased towards the Palestinian side. This, therefore, might suggest that Indyk is in fact not a fair broker in the peace talks. This article will highlight why Indyk is not a suitable representative to have on board for the talks.
One key issue which illustrates Indyk’s bias towards the Palestinian side and therefore not making him an honest broker in the peace talks is his association with the New Israel Fund. Indyk is the co-chairman of this group, a funder of various far-left and anti-Israel groups in Israel and in the diaspora today. When Operation Cast Lead was carried out there were a variety of Israeli left-wing organisations that provided quotes published in the Goldstone Report. The report, which was a United Nations report on Israeli actions during this operation, was subsequently branded as biased and extremely anti-Israel. The NIF was responsible for sponsoring 92% of quotes based on Israel that were published in the Goldstone report. There has already been opposition to Indyk’s appointment as broker in the peace talks with Deputy Defence Minister Danny Danon contacting the Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stating his frustration that Indyk would be the go-to person regarding the peace talks. Danon in his letter to Netanyahu said ‘I request that you ask the American administration for an honest broker for these negotiations.’ Danon is not the only critic of Indyk’s appointment. Ronen Shoval, the chairman of Im Tirzu, a grassroots Israel Zionist movement requested a “more honest broker”, also claiming that “Someone who is a board member of the New Israel Fund is completely unsuitable for the position as a mediator in peace talks.” Shoval has asked all those supporters of Israel, American Jews and people who care passionately about peace in the Middle East to urge the US to replace Indyk. This position that Indyk has been given should serve as a worrying sign to the Israeli public with Israelis already worried about peace talks and which Shoval also claimed was a problem: “Appointing someone from the New Israel Fund to such a crucial position will make them lose faith entirely – they just won’t trust someone from the NIF.”
Indyk has also been seen in the past to be a public critic of current Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu. Indyk has been seen to be one of the leading Jewish apologists for President Obama in his confrontation with the Israeli government. In an article written in 2010 it was claimed that Indyk had been becoming stronger in his attacks on Netanyahu whilst blaming him for the crisis and additionally branding him as an instrument of extremist nationalist elements. One very harsh attack that Indyk has previously aimed at Israel was to do with their stubbornness. Indyk said that Israeli Intransigence was a contributing factor towards US military casualties. This is a statement that Indyk must surely know to be false and has been heavily refuted by many including one American General David Petraeus who has described Israel as being a positive strategic ally. Indyk essentially in his attacks on Israel has claimed that the deaths of American soldiers were caused by Israelis endangering ‘a vital national security interest for the US” which is probably relating to building apartments in Jewish neighbourhoods in east Jerusalem. As aforementioned Indyk has publicly criticised Netanyahu. This is evident in remarks made in relation to letters that President Obama has sent to his troops. Indyk claimed that 200,000 US troops were battling against terrorism and Obama is obliged to write between 30 and 40 condolence letters a month. Indyk’s problem here is that this is far more letters that Netanyahu sends. Remarks from such a prominent Jewish public figure can be seen to have extremely damaging effects on Israel and the Jewish community. Indyk has also stated some further outrageous opinions which highlight his anti-Israel stance. Indyk believes that if more unilateral concessions are made to the Palestinians then the nuclear threat that Iran poses will be resolved. This is another tenuous link that Indyk brings into the argument claiming that the construction freeze in Jerusalem is linked to Obama’s inability to deal with President Ahmadinejad.
One further critic of Indyk’s appointment as the US representative for peace talks is Morton Klein who is the president of the Zionist Organisation of America. Klein has publicly come out and criticised the position that Indyk has been given on the peace talks by claiming that he has always been on the side of the Arab’s and thus against the Israeli point of view. This is highlighted in a statement that he said claiming that Indyk has compared Arab terrorism to building in Jewish Jerusalem. Furthermore Klein has said that Indyk has criticised Israeli Defence Forces operations against Arab terrorism and that Israel should hand back the Golan Heights. Klein also discusses the view which I mentioned previously that Israeli ‘intransigence’ has been a cause of endangering the lives of American soldiers. The most potent point that Klein makes on the appointment of Indyk’s role in these peace talks is that “Indyk is not an honest broker. He will only give backing to the Arab position against Israeli interests. If Indyk is leading the American negotiating team, it is as if there is an Arab representing the Americans.” This view is shared by many people on the Israeli side and the appointment of Indyk serves as a worrying sign to those who aim for peace to be established.
To conclude, from the above it is strongly evident that the appointment of Martin Indyk as the US representative for peace talks on the Arab-Israeli conflict is a position which should be reviewed immediately before the peace talks resume. The fact that Indyk is co-chairman of the New Israel Fund which is clearly an anti-Israel group proves that there is going to be a major bias when the talks are going on. Previous remarks made by Indyk convey that he is not a supporter of Israel and that he is more aligned to the Palestinian cause. The link that he made between unilateral concession being made to the Palestinians which will lead to Iran’s nuclear aggression lessening share no link and furthermore highlight that his position is one which cannot be trusted. Finally the fact that many senior people including the Israeli Deputy Defence Minister have spoken up of their concern of Indyk’s appointment prove that Israel should do anything that they can to try and get a different representative on board for the talks to ensure a fairer opinion is given.