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Kerry taps US team for Israeli-Palestinian talks

Secretary of State John Kerry on Monday formally announced the U.S. negotiating team for Israeli-Palestinian peace talks that will resume Monday after a three-year hiatus and called on both sides to press forward with a sense of “urgency.” [WATCH VIDEO]

“There is now a path forward, and we must follow that path with urgency,” Kerry said in a statement. “If the leaders on both sides continue to show strong leadership and a willingness to make those tough choices, and a willingness to reasonably compromise, then peace is possible.”

Martin Indyk, President Clinton's ambassador to Israel, will serve as U.S. special envoy for the talks and engage with both sides on a “day-to-day basis, working with the parties wherever they are negotiating.” 

Kerry's former staff director on the Senate Foreign Relations panel, Frank Lowenstein, will serve as Indyk's deputy and senior adviser to Kerry.

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The announcement comes as Israeli Justice Minister Tzipi Livni and chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat are on route to Washington. They're expected to meet for a lightning round of preliminary talks on Monday night and Tuesday after Israel on Sunday agreed to release 104 Palestinian prisoners.

Kerry credited President Obama's March speech in Jerusalem and the efforts of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for making the new round of talks possible. 

The peace process had been frozen since 2010 over disagreements about the borders of a future Palestinian state and continued Israeli settlement construction in the territories occupied after the 1967 war. 

Indyk told Kerry he's been convinced for 40 years that peace is possible after witnessing first-hand, as a student in Jerusalem, Henry Kissinger's diplomacy to end the 1973 Yom Kippur war.

“Thank you … for vesting in me such important responsibilities,” said Indyk, who is on leave from his role as vice president and director for foreign policy at the Brookings Institution. “You took up the challenge when most people thought you were on a mission impossible. And backed by the president, you drove the effort with persistence, patience and creativity.”