Martin Indyk
Martin IndykFlash 90

Former US diplomat Martin Indyk, who has spent his career trying to fix problems in the Middle East, says it’s time to rein in our grandiose vision for the region in exchange for something more attainable.

Indyk, fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations and former US ambassador to Israel says, "I'm not feeling heartbreak at the moment, but I will admit that my heart has been broken at least three times. And that was because I came to the Middle East via the Arab-Israeli conflict, and the belief that the United States had a critical role to play in resolving that conflict."

"Indeed, I've devoted my entire professional career to that proposition. Studying, writing about and then practicing the art of American peacemaking diplomacy in the Middle East. And it's not as if we didn't have some successes along the way. But in the end, we were unable after repeated efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. And I think that that that's what has been heartbreaking for me," said Indyk on the United States' ability to bridge the gap in Middle East relations.

In his opinion, "The peace has to be made between the parties involved in the conflict. The United States can at best be an honest broker and a mediator and can support the parties; underwrite their risks if they're prepared to take risks for peace, as Israeli and Palestinian leaders have been prepared in the past. But there's no risk-taking involved in a plan for the Israelis that meets all those security requirements — which I think is important — but also meets all their other requirements, and doesn't take into account Palestinian concerns. So, it's easy to make peace between the United States and Israel, but that's not the purpose of the exercise."

"That doesn't end the conflict. And that's all that the Trump plan has done. So I think the essence of it is: How do you actually bridge the gap between the parties? The United States can put forward ideas based on their knowledge of their positions and their flexibility. But you can't do it simply by agreeing with one side on what their needs are, and then turning around and trying to impose it on the other. The United States doesn't have the ability to bludgeon the Palestinians into saying 'yes.' The one advantage they have in their immense weakness is the ability to say no. And that's exactly what they're saying."

He admits, however, that the two-state solution is not applicable at this time. "I don't believe that a one-state solution is any more viable than the solution that's being presented at the moment in the Trump plan. I do think that in the end, the parties will eventually, after exhausting all the other possibilities, come around to the reality that the only way to live together is, first of all, to separate into two independent states living alongside each other in peace. But at the moment, the conditions, as I've said all along, aren't ripe for that."