Indyk, who is 62, served as a National Security Council official and as Washington’s ambassador to Israel in the Clinton administration, and is the Director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
During a news conference to introduce Indyk, Kerry said he was optimistic that the new talks between the Palestinians and Israel would lead to a “comprehensive resolution.” He also said the talks would face difficult decisions and that “reasonable compromises” would need to be made.
Kerry added that Indyk’s task would be to oversee the resumption of the negotiation process between the Palestinians and the Israelis, following a break of three years.
Indyk thanked President Barack Obama and the secretary of state for his appointment. He said he was “optimistic that comprehensive peace in the Middle East was now possible.”
Meanwhile, President Obama welcomed the resumption of the peace talks, which he described as a “promising step forward,” and warning that “difficult choices” were awaiting the two sides.
The Palestinians and Israelis agreed to a round of preliminary discussions on resuming peace talks following intensive shuttle diplomacy by Kerry over the past few months. The agreement to restart negotiations was reached after Israel approved the release of 104 Palestinian prisoners, a decision which split the Israeli cabinet.
The Palestinian side will be represented at the preliminary talks by chief negotiator Saeb Erekat, while the Israeli side will be represented by Justice Minister Tzipi Livni.
Palestinian presidential spokesman Nabil Abu-Rudaynah said “the first meeting aims at laying down a procedural work plan to enable both sides to go forward in the talks.”
Meanwhile, Tzipi Livini said: “I hope that the talks start in an atmosphere of good will and mutual trust, despite the great difficulties facing the negotiation process.” She added: “Israeli security and other interests related to protecting the Jewish nature of the state, make it imperative that all avenues are explored to reach a settlement.”
Kifah Ziboun also contributed to this report