What Does Martin Indyk Believe?
6:25 PM, Jul 30, 2013 • By NOAH POLLAK
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:
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.
The same pattern of flattery and then criticism is on display in Indyk’s treatment of Obama’s grandiose 2009 “Speech to the Muslim World,” delivered in Cairo. After the speech, Indyk was of course lavish in his praise:
Fast-forward to the summer of 2012 and it turns out he thought the whole thing was a bad idea – and not just in retrospect, but at the time:
In late 2010, sorting through the wreckage of the Cairo speech and the settlement freeze, Indyk discovered a new idea to get behind, one he was certain would get the peace process back on track – just as certain as he’d been about the settlement freeze.
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