WASHINGTON, Oct. 10 (JTA) – As the United States continues to push diplomacy to stop the Middle East violence, one man who was thought to have been sidelined is actually right in the center of the game.
Martin Indyk, the U.S. ambassador to Israel, has had his security clearance reinstated “for the duration of the current crisis,” according to the State Department. Indyk will be able to perform his full duties and will have access to classified information.
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright made the decision to reinstate the ambassador’s clearance “in light of the continuing turmoil in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip and for compelling national security interests,” the department said.
The clashes between Israelis and Palestinians have killed at least 88 people since they broke out nearly two weeks ago.
The reinstatement of Indyk’s security clearance indicates the United States is going all-out to get both sides talking. President Clinton spoke to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat on Tuesday to “discuss steps that they could take in the region to end the cycle of violence,” said White House spokesman Jake Siewert.
The U.S. urged both sides to “defuse the tension to lower the level of violence and ultimately to find a way that we can begin to get back to the table and resolve differences at the negotiating table and not in the streets,” Siewert added. Siewert said no decision had yet been made on whether there would be an emergency summit in the region with Barak and Arafat. Egypt coolly received the idea of holding a summit in the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheik.
Barak told Israel Army Radio he is willing to attend a U.S.-sponsored peace summit.
Siewert said there were still a number of options on the table, including a possible trip by Clinton or Albright to meet with Barak and Arafat.
The spokesman also said Indyk “remains part of the team.”
When his security clearance was suspended, Indyk was supposedly stuck in Washington until his investigation by the State Department cleared up.
But Indyk was allowed to go home for the Jewish holidays and later the decision was made to have him remain in the area and meet with diplomats and officials but without access to classified information.
Because of the escalating violence, however, the State Department then chose to reinstate Indyk’s security clearance.
Indyk is being investigated on grounds of “suspected violations” of security standards, including his use of unclassified, government-owned laptop computers. State Department officials have emphasized that there is “no indication of espionage in this matter” and that no “intelligence information” had “been compromised.”
The investigation into his activities is ongoing and once the situation in the Middle East stabilizes, his clearance will be re-evaluated.