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Kurtzer Vying with Indyk for Mediator Job – Report

Reports that Martin Indyk will serve as mediator between Israel and the PA may have been premature.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 7/25/2013, 11:04 PM

Daniel Kurtzer
Daniel Kurtzer
Flash 90

Reports that former U.S. Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk, has been chosen to serve as mediator between Israel and the PA may have been premature. According to Yediot Aharonot, there is at least one other candidate for the job – Daniel Kurtzer.

Like Indyk, the newspaper notes, he is Jewish and a former U.S. ambassador to Israel.

While Indyk was “unofficially declared as the man who will head the American team at the negotiatoins,” the newspaper reported, “he is no longer the sole candidate for the position.”

The paper says that the original candidate for the position was Dennis Ross, who served as a mediator between Israel and the PA for 12 years. Ross's candidacy was struck down by Susan Rice, the president's National Security Advisor, who sees Ross as being too closely identified with her predecessor in the position, Tom Donilon.

That was when Indyk's name came up, but Secretary of State John Kerry is reportedly not enthusiastic about appointing Indyk because he is too closely associated with his own predecessor, Hillary Clinton.

Another problem with Indyk's candidacy, which Yediot does not mention, is the fact that he is co-chairman of the New Israel Fund.

The NIF is a highly politicized and controversial fund, which provides substantial support to extremist groups, many of which are unashamedly anti-Israel. The NIF was also found to have funded the organizations responsible for 90% of the infamous Goldstone report against the IDF following Israel's 2009 counter-terrorism operation in Gaza.

That has led many Israelis - already skeptical about talks with the PA - to decry Indyk's supposed candidacy, and call for a more "impartial" candidate.

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon sent a letter this week to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu opposing the appointment of Indyk as a go-between in the talks. 

“The former ambassador, Mr. Martin Indyk, is the Chair of the International Council of the New Israel Fund which provides funding to anti-Zionist organizations that accuse Israel of war crimes,” wrote Danon in the letter.

“I request that you ask the American administration for an honest broker for these negotiations.”

Daniel Kurtzer, 64, was the United States ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005. He also served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt during the term of President Bill Clinton.

In 2006, he retired from the State Department and the U.S. Foreign Service with the rank of Career-Minister and assumed a chair in Middle East policy studies at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University.

He was among the principal authors of then-Senator Barack Obama’s address on the Middle East to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in June 2008.