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Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Martin Indyk, shameless opportunist

Noah Pollak tries to figure out what, if anything, Martin Indyk believes.
The single most astonishing example of Indyk’s opportunism is the settlement freeze that Obama demanded of Israel as a precondition for talks, today widely acknowledged – including by Obama and Indyk – as having been counterproductive. In 2009, Indyk endorsed Obama’s demand for the freeze as the only way to get the Palestinians into talks:
There's one Israeli action that may help move things forward, and Obama was not shy in bringing it up at the press conference: Israel's Road Map obligation to stop settlements. A real settlements freeze, and the dismantlement of unauthorised settlement outposts (another Road Map obligation), would give Palestinians renewed hope in negotiations…if Netanyahu were willing to fulfil that commitment, Obama might be able to persuade the Saudis and other Gulf Arabs to reciprocate by normalising relations with Israel. 
In an April 2010 op-ed for the New York Times, shortly after Obama used an ill-timed settlement announcement during Vice President Biden’s visit to Israel as casus belli for open political warfare on Netanyahu, Indyk castigated the prime minister for his failure to immediately submit to Obama’s demand for a freeze on Jewish construction in East Jerusalem:
Netanyahu explained that his presence at the summit would have prompted some leaders to focus attention on Israel’s nuclear program. But one suspects the real reason for his conspicuous absence was that he does not have an answer to President Obama’s demand that he freeze new building announcements in East Jerusalem for a few months to give peace negotiations with the Palestinians a chance to take off. 
At no point during the period in which the administration made an obsession out of settlements did Indyk go on record uttering a word of caution or criticism about such an approach. Yet today, he is full of wise criticism. In his 2012 book Bending History, his criticism of Obama on these issues is scathing. Obama’s approach – the approach Indyk fully endorsed when it mattered – “created a deeply problematic context for the showdown that Obama sought over Israeli settlement activity.” The large number of Israelis living in settlements, Indyk noted, “render[s] a total freeze unrealistic.” He continues: “In demanding a complete settlements freeze, Obama failed to make any distinction, thereby implying that building in east Jerusalem had to cease, too, and inadvertently encouraging the Palestinians to insist on that.” Indyk titled an entire section of the book “The Settlements Freeze Fiasco,” concluding that “Seven months of U.S. diplomatic effort had been wasted and Obama’s credibility damaged for no good purpose.” 
In a 2012 interview in Israel, he elaborated further: “[Obama] put Abu Mazen in an impossible position: he couldn’t have agreed for less than what Obama had demanded. Obama, Abu Mazen complained, put me on a high horse. I have no way to get off it.”
After years of encouraging Obama to treat Netanyahu harshly and pressure Israel for concessions when such advice was exactly what Obama wanted to hear, Indyk criticized Obama for doing exactly what he had recommended – only, of course, after it was safe to do so.
Martin Indyk doesn't seem to believe in anything, except his own career.It's a shame that Kerry and Obama have decided to advance it. Read the whole thing.

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