Marty Harris is an Assistant Digital Editor at the Lowy Institute. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Middle East and Central Asian Studies from ANU.

Secretary of State Kerry today formally appointed Ambassador Martin Indyk as US Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations. Ambassador Indyk is Vice President and Director of the Foreign Policy Program at the Brookings Institution and a Board Director at the Lowy Institute.

He recently gave a lecture here at the Institute, in which he prophetically argued that it will be very hard for the US to disengage itself from the Middle East peace process in its presumptive pivot to Asia.

Indyk is of course no stranger to the fraught world of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations: under President Clinton he served as a senior member of the negotiating team, and twice as US Ambassador to Israel (1995-97 and 2000-01) during key periods in the Oslo process.

Ambassador Indyk's personal account of his involvement — Innocent Abroad: An Intimate Account of American Peace Diplomacy in the Middle East — is one of the best accounts of that exciting and ultimately disappointing period in Israeli-Palestinian diplomacy. In it, Indyk highlights some of the miscalculations made by American mediators: mostly related to tactics and timing, but also a more general failure to really understand the motives of the Middle Eastern leaders they were dealing with (hence 'innocent' in the title). He also advised future US mediators to ensure they have plenty of 'humility, flexibility, and agility'.