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Martin Indyk resigns as U.S. Mideast envoy

Martin Indyk is resigning after nearly a year of unsuccessful efforts to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal

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Martin Indyk, the U.S. special Mideast envoy, has resigned, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Friday, marking the second time the Obama administration has lost a diplomat to help bring the Israelis and Palestinians closer to a settlement.

A former U.S. ambassador to Israel, Indyk was appointed to the envoy post of Mideast envoy last July by Kerry when he announced a resumption in peace talks with the goal of reaching a settlement within nine months.

But the talks collapsed before that target date amid what Kerry and other U.S. officials said were negative steps taken by both sides.

In a statement, Kerry’s spokesperson said Indyk would continue to work closely with the U.S. secretary of state on the Obama administration's efforts to help Israelis and Palestinians resolve their conflict.

“The secretary expressed deep appreciation to Ambassador Indyk and his team for their untiring efforts to promote Israeli-Palestinian peace, and emphasized the administration's commitment to continue the effort to achieve a lasting resolution,” the statement said.

“Ambassador Indyk has invested decades of his extraordinary career to the mission of helping Israelis and Palestinians achieve a lasting peace. It's the cause of Martin's career, and I'm grateful for the wisdom and insight he's brought to our collective efforts," Kerry noted.

"Martin's simply invaluable, a terrific partner and friend, and he played a vital role in the progress that was made in the negotiations,” Kerry also said.

Indyk's resignation marks the second time the White House has lost a Mideast peace envoy after a failed bid to bring the parties together. Former Sen. George Mitchell stepped down from the post in May 2011 after two years of frustrating efforts to get negotiations going.

Indyk, 62, had taken a leave of absence from his job as vice president and foreign policy director of Brookings when he was appointed envoy on July 29, 2013.

At the time, he thanked Obama and Kerry for “entrusting me with the mission of helping you take this breakthrough and turn it into a full-fledged Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.”

“It is a daunting and humbling challenge, but one that I cannot desist from,” Indyk said then.

Prior to joining Brookings, Indyk had served as former U.S. President Bill Clinton's ambassador to Israel and was a key part of the 2000 Camp David peace talks. He was also a special assistant to Clinton and senior director for Near East and South Asian affairs at the National Security Council from 1993 to 1995. And he served as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs in the State Department from 1997 to 2000.

Deputy Special Envoy Frank Lowenstein will now serve as the Acting Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations, according to the spokesperson.

(With The Associated Press)