Indyk to be named head US negotiator, says report

Two-time American ambassador to Israel could be appointed as early as Monday, ahead of initial talks

Former US special envoy Martin Indyk. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)
Former US special envoy Martin Indyk. (Miriam Alster/Flash90/File)

Martin Indyk is expected to be named the head of the American delegation to peace talks between Israel and Palestinians, possibly as early as Monday, a US source familiar with the matter has said.

The source, cited by Reuters, confirmed rumors floated early last week regarding the two-time US ambassador to Israel. Indyk, born in London and educated in Australia, currently serves as the director of foreign policy for the Brookings Institution, an influential DC-based think tank.

Justice Minister Tzipi Livni was slated to fly to Washington Sunday night to hold a lightning round of initial negotiations with the Palestinians.

Livni, who is tasked with heading Israel’s negotiation team, will meet in Washington with chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat and US Secretary of State John Kerry.

The State Department announced Sunday that the two sides had accepted invitations from Kerry to come to Washington “to formally resume direct final status negotiations.” Spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the initial meetings would begin Monday evening and continue Tuesday.

Kerry called both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Sunday and said they agreed that the talks would “serve as an opportunity to develop a procedural work plan for how the parties can proceed with the negotiations in the coming months.”

“The Israelis will be represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and [Netanyahu emissary] Yitzhak Molcho, and the Palestinians will be represented by Chief Negotiator Saeb Erekat and Mohammad Shtayyeh,” the State Department said.

“Both leaders have demonstrated a willingness to make difficult decisions that have been instrumental in getting to this point,” Kerry said in the statement. “We are grateful for their leadership.”

Kerry had announced on July 19 in Amman, Jordan, that negotiators from the two sides would be coming to Washington in a “week or so” after having agreed on a basis for resuming negotiations after a hiatus of almost three years.

Sunday’s carefully worded statement offered no details of the framework for the resumption of the talks, although both sides’ positions are well known.

Indyk’s decades of experience will be helpful at the negotiating table. Among his various official posts, he served as assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs, special assistant to the president, and senior director for Near East and South Asia in the National Security Council during the Clinton Administration. He started his career in America working for AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobbying organization, and served as ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997 and from 2000 to 2001.

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