Former US Mideast envoy Martin Indyk, who is often criticized for his open hostility towards Israeli gov’ts, rejected vigorous and forcefully corrected Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan, that it was indeed Israel that accepted the peace agreement and the Palestinians who did not.
By Ari Soffer
Former US Ambassador to Israel and US Middle East envoy Martin Indyk mounted a strong defense of Israel’s efforts to make peace with the Palestinian Authority, during a recent Al Jazeera interview.
Indyk – who has also been criticized by many within Israel for some of his far-left views – was grilled by Al Jazeera’s Mehdi Hasan on his “pro-Israel” positions for the “Head to Head” program.
“Yes, I am pro-Israel, but I’m also pro-peace,” Indyk told his interviewer, in comments near the start of the program, which was aired Friday evening.
Hasan began by accusing America of not being an honest broker, noting the USA’s close alliance with the State of Israel.
Indyk defended that position, claiming that it was precisely because the US is an Israeli ally that it has been able to convince Israel to make concessions.
“The United States is pro-Israel and that’s what gives it its influence in the peace process,” Indyk said.
“We are not neutral, we do not claim to be neutral. We have an alliance with Israel, but in order to achieve another interest that we have, which is peace in the region… and legitimate national rights for the Palestinians, we need to be able to influence Israel.”
One particularly explosive clash, however, came when the two crossed swords over the so-called Clinton Parameters negotiated at the 2000 Camp David Summit, during Bill Clinton’s administration.
Indyk noted how then Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak had accepted the peace deal – which would have seen a Palestinian Arab state established in around 95% of Judea, Samaria and Gaza – while Palestinian Authority chief Yasser Arafat rejected it.
Hasan accused Indyk of lying, noting that both the Israeli and PA negotiating teams had tabled certain reservations to the agreement at one point. Indyk, however, insisted: “Barak accepted them.”
When Hasan shot back “no he didn’t,” Indyk appeared to finally lose his cool.
“Excuse me – I was there when the fax came from Barak’s office to my residence in Israel, with the formal decision, signed by the prime minister, accepting the Clinton Parameters,” the former peace envoy said, pumping his fist emphatically. “So don’t tell me that I don’t know what I’m taking about!”
Indyk did level many criticisms at Israel as well during the program, echoing the sentiments of his former boss, US Secretary of State John Kerry, in attacking Israel’s “continued expansion of the settlements” as a key factor which “screwed up the negotiations” with the PA in 2014.
His comments came on the same day as former President Bill Clinton also blamed Palestinian Authority intransigence for scuppering peace deals.
“I killed myself to give the Palestinians a state,” Clinton told Democratic voters in New Jersey on Friday. “I had a deal they turned down that would have given them all of Gaza.”
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