U.S. State Department: Mitchell is hanging in there

From an exchange between journalists and spokesman P.J. Crowley at the regular daily briefing of the U.S. State Department in Washington on 26 February:

QUESTION: There’s been several Arab media or Middle Eastern media reports that George Mitchell offered his resignation, and just seeing if you might be able to confirm – it was – which was refused.


QUESTION: Can you confirm that?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, first of all, George Mitchell was sitting with Secretary Clinton and [Israeli Defense] Minister [Ehud] Barak in the meeting in her office this morning. There appears to be a monthly rumor, story that George Mitchell is resigning. He is not, and he is on the job, and as we indicated, a critical part of the meeting today.

QUESTION: Would you – sorry, would you be able to – I mean, they’re citing that he’s frustrated. You know, is there – what are the hurdles that the U.S. is seeing right now in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? What are the main —

MR. CROWLEY: Well, are we frustrated? Sure, we’re frustrated. As we’ve said over and over again for the past few months … We want to see the parties get in negotiations. We want to see the parties taking steps that create an impetus that moves you towards negotiation, not unilateral steps that create either tension or obstacles that can inhibit the return to negotiations. We think that these – as we’ve said many, many times, the issues that are complex, emotional, can only be resolved in dialogue between the parties, and the sooner they begin talks, the better. So – but George Mitchell is determined, if you know him. He is – he’s engaged in discussions with the Palestinians, with the Israelis, with others around the region. And we’re all looking for that formula that can open the door to – for talks to begin … He’s not resigning.

QUESTION: Right. But the rumors keep coming up, so I’m just curious why.

MR. CROWLEY: I have no idea. (Laughter.) I mean, look. He is – if you know George Mitchell, he’s committed to this and he is an extraordinarily patient man. When you look – when he talks about his experiences in Northern Ireland over several years, that – he understands that it will just take hard work and determination that finally will create that tipping point where the parties will commit, seriously address the issues, and move towards a settlement. So I don’t – I see nothing but determination in George Mitchell’s eyes“…

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