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Phyllis Bennis: Closely linked with the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC, Martin Indyk was a key figure in the so-called peace process

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ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to Real News Network. I’m Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.

On Friday, U.S. special middle east envoy Martin Indyk resigned from his post some two months after the collapse of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and nearly after a year he was appointed to the position. Indyk will return to his position at the Brookings Institution as vice president and director of foreign policy. And the Israeli newspaper Haaretz quoted a senior Israeli official who said that, quote, Indyk will return to his post as special envoy if talks resume.

Now joining us to discuss this is Phyllis Bennis. She’s a fellow and the director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, D.C. She is the author of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.

Thanks for joining us, Phyllis.


WORONCZUK: So, Phyllis, describe who is Martin Indyk and what role has he played in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

WORONCZUK: Well, Martin Indyk is somebody who has been very central to U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East, particularly in the Israel-Palestine conflict, for decades. He goes back to the 1980s and into the ’90s. And he’s been in various positions. He’s been an ambassador to Israel.

But one of the most important parts of his political history here is that he worked for several years as the associate policy director of AIPAC, the biggest component of the pro-Israel lobby in the U.S. And it was while he was at AIPAC that he helped create and then became the first executive director of what’s known as the Washington Institute for Near East Policy or WINEP, which is known as AIPAC’S think tank. It’s a think tank that’s linked to AIPAC and is designed to provide not only theoretical but also analytical material for members of Congress, for others, for AIPAC to bolster AIPAC’s pro-Israel positions.

From there, he went into the Clinton State Department. He played a number of roles there. He was involved in early iterations of Israel-Palestine diplomacy, and in recent years he led those diplomatic efforts.

Now, he was an Australian citizen. He was born in Britain but grew up in Australia. And he became a U.S. citizen when he was made U.S. ambassador to Israel. So he has been part of the 20–I guess it’s now about 24 years of failed diplomacy by the United States aimed at ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict on Israeli terms. It hasn’t worked yet. It’s not likely to work in the future. And Martin Indyk is one of the people has been one of the regulars in that failed diplomacy.

WORONCZUK: And what do you make of the news that he might return to his post if the peace talks resume?

BENNIS: Well, you know, we might say that this last round, the Kerry round of the peace talks, should have been really called the Einstein round, based on what Einstein said was the definition of crazy, doing the same thing over and over again and thinking you’re going to get a different result. If they do the same thing, the same talks, based on the same failed policies, led by the same failed diplomats, it makes perfect sense that Martin Indyk should be right back front and center.

WORONCZUK: Okay. Phyllis Bennis, from the Institute for Policy Studies.

Thanks for that report.

BENNIS: Thank you.

WORONCZUK: And thank you for joining us on The Real News Network.


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Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow and the Director of the New Internationalism Project at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington DC.  Her books include Understanding ISIS & the New Global War on Terror, and the latest updated edition of Understanding the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict: A Primer.