Mitchell: He's no James Baker, no Kissinger

Haaretz columnist Yoel Marcus has written today that “U.S. envoy George Mitchell, who returned to Israel this week, has not achieved anything in his visits so far. Despite the halo he won by his successful mediation in Northern Ireland, he is no James Baker. Nor is he Henry Kissinger. Baker was tough and didn’t like our tricks. Kissinger, who was closer to his president, knew how to turn algebra into arithmetic, as Zalman Aran once reportedly said. Mitchell’s views on solving the conflict, as he outlined them back when he chaired a presidential commission in 2001, may have been reasonable, but they were unfeasible at that time. He believed Israel had to freeze settlement construction and the Palestinians had to stop the terror attacks. Yet Mitchell’s visit this week could be very important, if he abandons his slow mediation and instead puts a more definite and effective presidential plan on the table. After Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed publicly to a two-states-for-two-peoples solution, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ response was peculiar [sic]. Instead of agreeing to begin negotiations, he demanded that Israel first freeze construction in the settlements and added several other conditions. This refusal appeared on the face of it like a continuation of the Palestinian tradition of not missing any opportunity that could be missed. For Netanyahu’s approach, at least in theory, marked a dramatic turnabout that put his stand in line with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s formula – the 1967 lines plus territorial swaps. Mitchell said in a television interview that he believed it was possible to reach an agreement within two years. But the truth is that the chances of an agreement are getting smaller – not least due to the settlement-freeze policy adopted by U.S. President Barack Obama, on one hand, and Netanyahu’s condition – that the Iranian nuclear issue must be solved first – on the other”. This article can be read in full in Haaretz here.

For that matter, neither is George Mitchell a Brent Scowcroft, either …

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