A senior Israeli official familiar with Israeli-Palestinian peace talks lashed out at US special envoy Martin Indyk on Friday over the latter’s “hypocrisy” for singling out settlement construction as a major factor for the talks’ collapse last month.
The official, who spoke to Reuters on condition of anonymity, claimed Indyk knew that building in the settlements would continue throughout the nine-month US-led negotiations period.
He said that the US envoy was informed of all construction plans, down to the number of homes.
“Furthermore, [Indyk] knew that it was on this basis that Israel agreed to enter the talks,” the Israeli official said. “So it’s not clear why now that should be criticized.”
In his first public comments since talks ended, Indyk said Thursday that although the two sides showed “flexibility” it was clear they “do not feel the pressing need to make the gut-wrenching compromises necessary to achieve peace.”
In the end, despite months of “serious and intensive negotiations,” the US envoy said it was “easier for the Palestinians to sign conventions and appeal to international bodies in their supposed pursuit of ‘justice.’”
“It is easier for Israeli politicians to avoid tension in the governing coalition and for the Israeli people to maintain the current comfortable status quo,” he added.
“It is safe to say that if we the US are the only party that has a sense of urgency, these negotiations will not succeed.”
The senior Israeli official fired back on Friday, saying, “Indyk comes and blames others without speaking about his own responsibility for the current impasse.”
“[It is] difficult to point to any significant contribution that [Indyk] had made to the process,” he added, noting that the top US negotiator “demanded to be present at all of the meetings, despite the fact that the process was meant to be primarily bilateral.”
Indyk’s presence at some of the meetings had harmed progress, the official hinted without elaborating: “In certain meetings, his absence would, indeed, have been advantageous.”
In his comments Thursday, the US envoy warned Israel over continued settlement expansion: “The settlement movement… may well drive Israel into an irreversible binational reality.”
He added that settlement activity had “sabotaged negotiations” and now represented “a roadblock to resumption of negotiations.”
AFP contributed to this report.