Indyk should know better
Reprinted from Daily Alert, May 12, 2014
- Israel Fires Back at U.S. Envoy over Peace Talks’ Failure – Dan Williams
Israel fired back on Friday at a senior U.S. official, who blamed Jewish settlement construction in part for the breakdown of peacemaking with the Palestinians, saying he himself had done nothing to help the negotiations. U.S. envoy Martin Indyk said on Thursday that neither side had had the stomach to make the necessary compromises, and singled out settlement building as a particular obstacle. But a senior Israeli official familiar with the talks accused Indyk of hypocrisy, saying he had known construction in the West Bank and east Jerusalem would continue during the discussions. (Reuters)
- Martin’s Myths – Elliott Abrams
Martin Indyk, the chief assistant to Secretary of State John Kerry in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, speaking to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, continued the obsession over settlements – and the supply of misinformation about them. He spoke of “rampant” settlement expansion and “large scale land confiscation” for settlement expansion.
There is no “rampant” expansion or “large scale land confiscation” for settlements. Israel built 2,534 housing units last year in the West Bank. Of these, about a quarter (694) were in two major blocs near Jerusalem, Giv’at Ze’ev and Betar Illit, and 537 were in two other major blocs, Modiin Illit and Ma’ale Adumim, also near Jerusalem. These four, which will remain part of Israel, account for half of last year’s construction.
Only 908 units were built last year in Israeli townships of 10,000 residents or fewer, and most were built in towns that are part of the major blocs. Units built in areas that would become part of Palestine number in the low hundreds, approximately the rate of natural growth.
If Israel builds now inside settlement borders of major blocs it will certainly keep in any final peace agreement, it is not disadvantaging Palestinians today, nor is it making a final peace harder to achieve. Construction in the major blocs is not, nor was it an obstacle to peace talks before the administration foolishly made it so. The writer, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, was a deputy national security advisor in the George W. Bush administration. (Weekly Standard)
- The Mideast Peace Gap – Aaron David Miller
In a fascinating postmortem, an unnamed American official involved in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations said: “There are a lot of reasons for the peace effort’s failure, but people in Israel shouldn’t ignore the bitter truth – the primary sabotage came from the settlements.” If you believe that, I have a bridge over the mighty Jordan River to sell you.
Let’s be clear: Kerry’s peace process didn’t fail primarily because of settlements. It has been on life support from the beginning. The maximum that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is prepared to give on the core issues can’t be reconciled with the minimum that PA President Mahmoud Abbas is prepared to accept. That’s why every effort in the last decade has failed.
Moreover, the notion that the Palestinians could be counted on to make concessions that would take them beyond their established consensus was an illusory assumption. The notion that Abbas could be depended on for major deliverables was a fantasy. The writer served as a Middle East negotiator in Republican and Democratic administrations. (Los Angeles Times)
Peace Talks’ Failure Is in the Eye of the Beholder – Shmuel Rosner (New York Times)
- No one in the region was terribly surprised when the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed. Yet failure is in the eye of the beholder. And in this case only those who expected a deal – the Americans – failed.
- But for the two parties with real interests at stake, the talks proved, once again, that there are things more important for them than peace and calm – things like national pride, sacred traditions, symbols and land.
- Both parties entered the talks without any hope of reaching an agreement, and both are now exiting having reached their unstated aim: to avoid a deal in which they were never interested, without having to bear the full blame for dropping the ball. Each side would prefer to see Mr. Obama place the blame on the other side, but sharing it is reasonably tolerable.
- There are two false perceptions that repeatedly distort discussions of the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. First is the misguided idea that everybody knows what a final deal will look like, and that the inability to reach it is basically a diplomatic technicality. And second is the unfounded belief that Israelis and Palestinians want peace more than anything else. They don’t.
- Of course, Israelis and Palestinians, like all people everywhere, want to live without violence. But they also want many other things. They continue to battle it out because they have priorities other than the ones imagined by the mediator.
The writer is a fellow at the Jewish People Policy Institute.