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Israeli official accuses US peace envoy of hypocrisy

Israel replied on Friday to the remarks of US special envoy Martin Indyk who blamed Israeli settlements for the collapse of the Palestinian-Israeli talks last month.

According to different Israeli news outlets, which reported the Israeli reply, there is a huge rift between Israel and the US over the Israeli peace talks.

Indyk said on Thursday that Palestinian and Israeli officials were not ready to offer the concessions needed to reach a peace deal, pointing out the continuous building of Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

A senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Reuters, claimed Indyk knew that building the settlements would continue throughout the nine-month US-led negotiations period.

He said that the US envoy was informed of all construction plans, including the number of homes. "He knew that it was on this basis Israel agreed to enter the talks. So it is not clear why now this is subject to criticism."

The senior Israeli official continued: "Indyk comes and blames others without speaking about his own responsibility for the current impasse. It is difficult to point to any significant contribution that he made to the process."

According to the official, Indyk demanded to attend all the negotiation meetings, "despite the fact that the process was meant to be primarily bilateral."

"In certain meetings," the official said, "his absence would, indeed, have been advantageous."

In comments he made on Thursday, the US envoy warned Israel over continued settlement expansion. "Settlement may well drive Israel into an irreversible binational reality," he said. "Settlements have sabotaged negotiations and now represent a roadblock to the resumption of negotiations."

He also criticised the Palestinians for joining international agreements and organisations, as well as criticising the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation deal signed on 24 April.

The US Secretary of State John Kerry brokered Palestinian-Israeli peace talks starting on 29 July last year. Kerry chose Indyk as his envoy to these talks. Several Israeli officials also severely criticised Kerry himself.

According to the senior Israeli official, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu showed a kind of flexibility during the talks, but Indyk failed to persuade Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to offer similar flexibility.

Indyk pointed out the intermittent efforts of the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who reached a deal between Israel and Egypt in the 1970s. He said: "What happened then, might happen today. In the Middle East, it's never over."

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Asia & AmericasIsraelMiddle EastNewsPalestineUS
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