Deputy Minister Ofir Akunis (Likud) issued a sharp response to accusations from US envoy to the Middle East Martin Indyk Friday that Israel's construction in Judea and Samaria torpedoed peace talks on purpose.
"It is unfortunate that a Palestinian lie also affects our friends," Akunis stated. "There are not two truths here, only one: the Palestinians torpedoed the negotiations by choosing to reconcile with Hamas and take unilateral steps to apply to UN agencies."
Akunis also noted the flaws in Indyk's logic that construction over the 1949 Armistice lines destroyed chances for peace.
"There were no 'settlements' until 1967," he said. "Why didn't the Palestinians extend a hand in peace before that?"
Indyk fired harsh criticism at Israel Thursday, in a speech to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
“I can tell you first hand that that [announcing more building] had a very damaging effect, and by the way it was intended to have that damaging effect,” he said. “The promoters of the settlement activity are the ones who were adamantly opposed to the negotiations even though they were in a government that was committed to the negotiations.”
Indyk said "settlements" posed a “mortal” danger to Israel, leading it into an “irreversible binational reality.”
“Rampant settlement activity – especially in the midst of negotiations – doesn’t just undermine Palestinian trust in the purpose of the negotiations; it can undermine Israel’s Jewish future,” Indyk said. “If this continues, it could mortally wound the idea of Israel as a Jewish state – and that would be a tragedy of historic proportions.”
Indyk has reportedly slammed Israel's role in the death of peace talks before. Last week, Israeli sources named Indyk as the "senior White House official" in a Yediot Aharonot report who blamed Israel for the failure of peace talks.