U.S. envoy for Israeli-Palestinian talks to step down

Published June 28, 2014

WASHINGTON — Martin Indyk, the former U.S. diplomat who has served for the past year as Secretary of State John Kerry's point man in efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, is returning to his regular job at the Brookings Institution, Kerry announced Friday.

Kerry said in a statement that Frank Lowenstein, Indyk's deputy, would take over as acting special envoy for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

Indyk's departure had been widely expected since the end of April, when talks collapsed after a nine-month deadline Kerry set last summer passed without progress.

A former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Indyk took a leave of absence from Brookings, where he served as vice president and director of the Saban Center for Middle East Policy, to work with Kerry on the peace effort that has stymied U.S. foreign policy for decades.

As the latest talks fell apart, Indyk said that neither side had been prepared to make the compromises necessary to forge a deal. But he placed much of the blame on Israel, reportedly telling a Washington think tank last month that its settlement policy had had a "dramatically damaging" effect on the negotiations.

Kerry said that the United States remained committed "to resuming the process when the parties find a path back to serious negotiations."