The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed deep concern and opposition to the potential appointment of Martin Indyk as U.S. chief negotiator for Israeli/Palestinian peace talks. The ZOA — in the past and again now — has pointed to a detailed troubling record of Indyk ignoring and whitewashing Palestinian Authority (PA) promotion of terrorism and incitement to hatred and murder while also blaming Israel for lack of progress in peace talks that are actually foredoomed by Palestinian refusal to make peace with Israel or accept her as a Jewish state. Throughout his career, Indyk has supported Palestinian not Israeli positions. He publicly supports dividing Jerusalem; going back to the pre-1967 armistice lines; bringing in U.S. troops to insure a Palestinian state; has espoused an equivalence between Jewish building in Jerusalem with Arab terrorism; and stated that Jewish building must stop in order to deal with Iran. He has also criticized Israeli military action against Palestinian terrorism, demanded that Israel cede the strategic Golan Heights, and even blamed U.S. military casualties on Israeli intransigence on the Palestinian issue. Indyk is not an honest broker, but will simply be promoting the Palestinian position against Israel’s interests. Having Indyk as the lead negotiator for the U.S. is like having a Palestinian official representing America. Indyk, who currently heads the foreign policy program at the Brookings Institution, served as Assistant Secretary of State for Near East Affairs under President Bill Clinton and twice as U.S. Ambassador to Israel (1995-7 and 2000-1).
Deeply worrying aspects of Indyk’s record:
- August 2010: In a New York Times op-ed, Indyk proposed that Israel withdraw from “at least 95% of Judea and Samaria and accept a Palestinian capital in ‘Arab East Jerusalem,'” supporting the Palestinian’s extreme position. Despite noting that increased Israeli security measures had greatly reduced Palestinian terrorist attacks in recent years, Indyk called for Israel to cease its military incursions into PA-controlled areas — precisely the measure that had helped bring about this dramatic reduction in Palestinian terrorism… (Indyk, ‘For Once, Hope in the Middle East,’ New York Times, August 26, 2010).
- September 1996: In an interview on ‘Nightline,’ Indyk called for Israel to seal up the Jerusalem archeological tunnel (whose opening had been used by the Arafat/PA as an excuse to spur Palestinians to riot and bloodshed. In short, Indyk interfered in an internal Israeli matter in a way that made Arafat’s resort to violence profitable. In November 1996, Indyk pressured then-New Jersey Governor Christine Whitman not to visit the Jerusalem archeological tunnel, resulting in her not doing so.
- 1997: In a piece of shameful false equivalance, Indyk equated Israel’s peaceful, legal housing construction in the Har Homa neighborhood of southern Jerusalem with Palestinian Arab terrorist attacks against Israelis as obstacles to peace.
- 1995-2001: As Ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State, Indyk played an important role in the process or monitoring and reporting on Israeli and PA compliance with the Oslo accords. These reports consistently minimized or ignored Palestinian Arab violations. In 1996, U.S. Representative Benjamin Gilman (R-NY), then Chairman of the House International Relations Committee, correctly described these reports on Palestinian compliance as being a “whitewash.” (The process of whitewashing the PA’s record of non-compliance is described in detail in a 2002 report from the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), which Indyk founded, by Matthew Levitt, ‘The State Department’s Subtle Swipe at the Concept of Demanding Palestinian Compliance,’ Policywatch No. 640, WINEP, July 24, 2002).
- 2000-1: When Yasser Arafat launched a terrorist wave against Israel following the failure of the Camp David negotiations, Indyk harshly criticized Israel’s military operations against Arafat’s forces. Also, by informing Congress that Arafat’s forces were not involved in the campaign of terror, Indyk was camouflaging the fact that Arafat’s own forces, including his Force 17, Preventive Security Service and other PA forces were themselves actively involved in the Palestinian terrorism and violence. Thus, when Israel issued a November 2000 white paper, based on intercepted documentary evidence from Arafat’s headquarters demonstrating clear Arafat/PA involvement in the campaign of terrorism, Indyk undertook a special trip to Jerusalem to demand that Israel withdraw its report. In May 2001, in an address at Ben Gurion University, Indyk maintained the fiction that the PA was the solution rather than the problem, proposing Israel to urge the PA to fight the terrorists while apologizing for Arafat not having done so: “What you do is you get Arafat to act against the perpetrators of the violence, Hamas, Tanzim gangs, the Islamic Jihad and you get the Israeli government to hold back the Israeli army while he does so. But that requires a great deal of energy and commitment on Arafat’s part — in very risky circumstances to take on the very angry Palestinian street — and that requires a great deal of restraint and forbearance on the part of the government of Israel” (Quoted in David Bedein, ‘Kerry’s Arafat Yes-Man,’ FrontPage Magazine, August 2004).
- 2001: In an interview, Indyk said that he did not regard Palestinian rock throwing, which had injured numerous Israelis, as violence that the U.S.. expected to the PA to stop, saying, “What is quiet? It is the absence of noise, the absence of violent activity. Is it no rock being thrown anywhere? That’s not our definition” (Herb Keinon & Jeff Barak, ‘The ambassador’s admission,’ Jerusalem Post, July 8, 2001).
- 2002: Indyk, as the head of the Saban Center at the Brookings Institution, strongly advocated dispatching U.S. troops to Judea, Samaria and Gaza to create a U.S. trusteeship to protect the PA regime. Such a step would have placed the U.S. in a virtual state of war with the Israeli army and undermined the Roadmap’s call for Palestinian compliance with its signed obligations under Oslo by essentially delivering them statehood without their having fulfilled their signed obligations under Oslo.
- September 2004: Indyk essentially justified Syrian support for Hizballah terrorism against Israel, saying, “‘If you want peace with Syria you have to give them back the Golan Heights. If you do not want peace with Syria keep the Golan Heights, but do not expect to have peace with Syria and do not expect them to sit quietly and do nothing and not support Hizbullah … Don’t expect them to simply accept it, because you wouldn’t if you were them,’ said Indyk. It doesn’t belong to Israel, it belongs to Syria, he added” (Tovia Lazaroff, ‘Indyk: Golan Heights does not belong to Israel,’ Jerusalem Post, September 7, 2004). Indyk stated this, even though Syria is demanding the return, not only of the Golan Heights, but also sovereign Israeli territory it illegally seized from Israel in 1948. All Israeli compromise peace proposals since Oslo have been rejected by Syria because they did not include Israeli agreeing to cede the formerly Syrian occupied Israeli territory in question.
- February 2007: Indyk stated before a Congressional sub-committee that “Abu Mazen [Mahmoud Abbas’ nom de guerre], the Palestinian president — who’s the elected Palestinian president — has met all of the requirements, including removing, once he became president, ending the incitement of Israel in the Palestinian media and beginning the process of dealing with the demonization of Israel in Palestinian curricula. (Transcript of Hearing of the Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, February 14, 2007). Unfortunately, Indyk’s claims were — and remain to this day — at variance with the reality of continuing demonization of Israel in the PA media, mosques, schools and youth camps. Only the month before making these false, laudatory statements about Abbas, Abbas told a Fatah rally that, “We have a legitimate right to direct our guns against Israeli occupation … Our rifles, all our rifles, are directed against The Occupation” Moreover, since making those remarks, Abbas has publicly lauded Jew-killing terrorists like the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine’s George Habash and Hamas’ Shekih Ahmed Yassin; personally sheltered wanted terrorists in his Ramallah presidential compound, including Khaled Shawish, wanted by Israel for the murder of 19 Israelis; and personally congratulated the ghoulish terrorist Samir Kuntar upon his release by Israel, for which Abbas’ Fatah also organized celebrations.
- December 2008: Following President Obama’s election in November 2008, Indyk insultingly suggested that Washington coddles Israel, saying that, now that Obama had been elected, “the era of the blank cheque is over” (‘Obama spells end of blank cheques for Israel,’ Agence France Presse, December 7, 2008).
- 2010: Indyk joined the board of the New Israel Fund (NIF), an organization that holds itself out as supporting NGO’s defending civil rights in Israel but which, however, also supports NGOs opposed to Israel’s existence as a Jewish state. When Indyk’s efforts to obtain funding for NIF in Australia backfired after NGO Watch Director Gerald Steinberg exposed NIF’s funding of organizations and individuals opposed to Israel’s existence and supportive of Palestinian terrorism, Indyk fiercely attacked Steinberg, who responded by pointing out the numerous factual errors in Indyk’s advocacy on behalf of NIF. (NGO Monitor has documented the NIF’s efforts to conceal its funding for groups that support Boycott, Divestment & Sanctions (BDS) against Israel). In June 2011, Indyk was also publicly and verbally abusive and made an obscene gesture to Steinberg during an encounter at the President’s Conference in Jerusalem.
- April 2010: In a New York Times op-ed piece, Indyk accused Israel of having “poisoned” relations between Washington and Jerusalem and caused President Obama’s efforts to stop Iran going nuclear to fail by refusing to make further one-sided concessions to the Palestinians. He also blamed an announcement of a construction project in a Jewish neighborhood in eastern Jerusalem as torpedoing Israeli/Palestinian talks organized by the Obama Administration, ignoring the fact that Jewish construction had not previously impeded talks or even the signing Israeli/Palestinian agreements until President Obama started insisting in 2009 that Israel institute a freeze on Jews — and only Jews — building homes or moving into Judea, Samaria and eastern Jerusalem. (Indyk, ‘When Your Best Friend Gets Angry,’ New York Times, April 19, 2010). In short, Indyk falsely accused Israel of harming America and its national interests.
- June 1996: Just four days after the election of a new Likud-led government in Jerusalem, Indyk publicly urged Prime Minister-elect Benjamin Netanyahu to make concessions to Arafat on the Hebron issue. (Jerusalem Post, June 3, 1996). Subsequent Israeli concessions on Hebron resulted in the hand-over of territory to PA control from which many Israelis were killed and wounded in various attacks.
- 1997: Indyk gave the Israeli government a list of concessions to the PA that it should make, including allowing the opening of a PA airport and seaport in the Gaza Strip (Reuters, March 11, 1997). The creation of both made magnified Israel’s difficulties in defending itself against Palestinian terrorism when Yasser Arafat launched a terrorist campaign against Israel in 2000.
- July 1997: Likud Knesset Member David Levy and Shas Party leader Aryeh Deri disclosed that Indyk pressured them and other Knesset Members to oppose a bill in the Israeli parliament that would have reduced the likelihood of Israel surrendering the Golan Heights to Syria. (Agence France Presse, July 26, 1995; Washington Times, July 27, 1995).
- July 1997: Indyk intervened with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to refrain from appointing Ariel Sharon as Finance Minister (Yediot Ahronot, July 8, 1997).
- February 1999: Indyk falsely contradicted an Israeli statement that the PA had been freeing terrorists who had been jailed for murdering Israelis in terrorist attack. Indyk said, “You said they’ve been releasing terrorists and murderers. That is not true. They did release people. We checked on it. We checked your information. We checked their information, our own information. It is simply not true… The fundamental point is they did not release terrorists or murderers,” a claim immediately refuted by the Israeli official present, Lenny Ben-David. Indyk then criticized Israel for raising the matter, saying that Israel should use “basic psychology” as with children, essentially discarding the need for Palestinian compliance with signed commitments: “What’s the best way to improve their behavior? Is it to beat on them all the time? Or is it to encourage them, to build their confidence in the relationship?” (‘Indyk Indignant,’ Jerusalem Post, February 23 1999).
- June 1999: in a sign of gross indifference to the American victims of Palestinian terrorism, and a cruel slap in the face to the families of the numerous Americans killed in attacks by the Abu Nidal group, Indyk said during a press conference that Egypt’s harboring of Abu Nidal, the terrorist who has killed at least 17 American citizens and who had been reported in January 1999 in New York Times to be living in Cairo, “is not an issue” (Barry Schweid, ‘Albright welcomes Egypt’s Mubarak,’ Associated Press, June 29, 1999).
- September 1999: Indyk “harshly criticized” and had a “sharp exchange of words” with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak during the negotiations preceding the Sharm el-Sheikh agreement between Israel and the PA. He also questioned Barak’s “credibility” (Ma’ariv, September 8, 1999).
- November 1999: Indyk engaged in false equivalence and effective delegitimization of Israeli counter-terrorist action against Hizballah terrorists who had fired rockets into populated centers in northern Israel when he told the Lebanese newspaper As Safir on November 17, 1999, that “civilians in southern Lebanon and northern Israel have both been victims of the escalating violence.” (Washington Times, November 18, 1999).
- 2000: Speaking at the Hebrew Union College in Jerusalem on September 14, 2000, Indyk publicly urged Israel to divide Jerusalem, effectively bolstering Palestinian demands to divide the city, saying that “There is no other solution but to share the Holy City.” In fact, polls have shown that Palestinians are unwilling to share Jerusalem, nor would they conclude a permanent peace even if Israel did create a Palestinian state with eastern Jerusalem serving as its capital.
- November 2004: In a lecture at Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Indyk said that, “Israel has to realize that it will need to made territorial concessions and turn into a city-state: one large city from the north to the south, with a big park in the north and one in the south.” Indyk also baselessly claimed that the PA’s Abbas was opposed to terrorism, saying that Abu Mazen “stood up in front of his people, unlike Arafat, and told them terrorism is a bad thing for us. [He said it’s] religiously wrong, it’s morally wrong and politically, it’s doing great damage to our cause.” In fact, Abbas had said the opposite the previous year when he stated that “we agreed upon the freezing of Palestinian military operations [a euphemism for terrorism] for one year … We did not say, however, that we are giving up the armed struggle … The Intifada must continue” (‘Quotes of the Week: Indyk and Abu Mazen,’ Israel National News, November 21, 2004).
- April 2009: Indyk claimed that “the Palestinians have fulfilled their commitments” to begin maintaining security and fighting terrorism and was reported to have said that “Israel’s settlement expansion meant that it was lagging behind the Palestinian Authority in meeting peace-process goals” (‘Doing the Palestinian Two-Step: Netanyahu and Obama About to Debate Foreign Policy, Jewish Exponent [Philadelphia], April 23, 2009).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “The record shows in copious detail that, as Ambassador to Israel and Assistant Secretary of State during 1995-2001, Martin Indyk played an important role in minimizing, ignoring and misreporting PA violations of the Oslo Accords, especially regarding incitement to hatred and murder within the PA and refusal to accept Israel as a Jewish state.
“The effort to cover-up and outwit the requirements for the PA to fulfill its signed agreements under Oslo was systematic — and Martin Indyk has played a central part in it.
“Indyk also showed defective judgment in stating in 2010 that the negotiating environment was “better suited to peacemaking today than it has been at any point in the last decade” — just at the time the PA actually refused to negotiate further, which remained the case up until today.
“Indyk has also viciously, rudely and publicly attacked people — including me — who exercised our right to draw attention to the manifold misdeeds and violations of agreements by the Fatah/PA. Such exposure demonstrated the falsity of Indyk’s advocacy for and whitewashing of the PA and his consequent tendency to blame Israel for impasses in what was and remains a flawed peace process in which he has played a principal part. Having Indyk as the lead negotiator for the U.S. is like having a Palestinian official representing America. His appointment will stimulate Palestinian intransigence, as it will encourage the PA to believe that it will not be penalized for intransigence and violations. Given his record, Indyk cannot be an honest broker.
“His acts strongly suggest a rigid and jaundiced ideologue that refuses to let facts interfere with his preferred peace process. They foreshadow that he would make a truly wretched choice as a chief U.S. negotiator.
“A U.S. negotiator must be one without such baggage, one who is willing to confront the evidence of PA violations and unwillingness to live in peace with Israel and draw appropriate conclusions from it. He must be someone who is willing to tell the President the truth about the PA, even if the truth is inconvenient. Martin Indyk is not such a man.”