The Ignominious End of George Mitchell

George Mitchell was appointed, with much fanfare and to the delight of many observers (including this one) on President Barack Obama’s second day in office, to the thankless task of trying to mediate an agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

George Mitchell waving goodbye and likely good riddance to the Israel-Palestine "peace process"

With far less fanfare, and an air of gloom instead of anticipation, it has now ended.

His term of office was supposed to be two years; in actual time, his tenure lasted a bit longer, but in practical terms it was considerably shorter.

Over a year ago, when it became apparent that Dennis Ross, with whom Mitchell did not see eye to eye, was working his own well-established channels with the Israelis (and in particular with Benjamin Netanyahu’s close friend and adviser, Yitzhak Molcho), Mitchell was already being sidelined.

At this point, he hasn’t been to the region in five months, and since his appointment, there’s been about a month of actual discussions between the parties.

So his resignation is rather like the end of a lopsided basketball game whose outcome has not been in doubt for some time, and the string has just finally played out; in and of itself, the resignation means very little.

What is more telling are the responses to Mitchell quitting and the timing of it. Continue reading

Expectations Build for Obama Mideast Policy Speech

My latest piece for IPS, on whether or not Obama will make a serious pitch re Israel-Palestine in his upcoming policy speech on the Mideast.

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2011 (IPS) – With Jordan’s King Abdullah and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu coming to Washington next week, anticipation of a major Middle East policy speech by President Barack Obama set for Thursday is growing rapidly.

A key question on analysts’ minds is whether the deadlocked Israel- Palestinian peace process will be part of that speech, which comes on the eve of Netanyahu’s visit.
Continue reading