Laura Rozen on George Mitchell

Laura Rozen has reported on Politico on 3 September that “One diplomat who attended a State Department briefing Friday for Western country diplomats on the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks noted the administration is keeping its cards close to the chest with their allies as well. ‘Every question was answered with “it’s up to the parties to decide”, or “no comment”, or “let’s not get ahead of ourselves”,’ he said of the forty minute briefing. ‘Virtually nothing was said that wasn’t direct quotes from Obama, Clinton, or Mitchell’ in recent days, he added. The administration is trying to brief more and do more outreach, while at the same time be quite secretive and stingy with details so as not to imperil fragile peace efforts … at a Tuesday briefing at the National Security Council, Mitchell regaled journalists – and sounded like he would be happy to go on even longer — on what was analogous and not between the Northern Irish peace effort vs. the current Middle East one, which hadn’t quite been asked by anyone. He filled the time with anodyne observations without stepping on more delicate current territory, no doubt an art in and of itself. The diplomat said he understood the discretion so as not to spoil the chances of success. His only issue was that they perhaps shouldn’t invite a lot of people for a briefing if the purpose was to have an excuse to decline a more detailed one in person at a later date”.

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What has George Mitchell achieved so far?

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Philip J. Crowley said at the Daily Press Briefing for journalists in Washington, DC on Wednesday 21 July — in response to questions — that U.S. Special Middle East Envoy George Mitchell had returned from his latest efforts in “proximity” talks between Israeli and Palestinian leaders and had achieved… “A lot of frequent flyer miles (laughter).”…

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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“…

Is there a "White Intifada"? Are negotiations on "maintenance"?

Aluf Benn has written in an article published in Haaretz this evening that “The Palestinian Authority is conducting a campaign to isolate Israel, based on the Goldstone report and the hatred for the Netanyahu government. Political scientists Shaul Mishal and Doron Mazza are calling it ‘the white intifada’, which is aimed at enlisting international support for a unilateral declaration of independence in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem. In a document they distributed last week, they warn of Israeli complaisance and present a disturbing scenario: The Palestinians declare independence, and Israel refuses to recognize it and is faced with a boycott. Regardless of whether it yields or reacts with force, Israel cannot win, and will also lose control of the process. Therefore the two scholars recommend a preemptive diplomatic move … Obama’s approach – to ‘park’ the diplomatic process for lack of achievements and to concentrate on domestic issues – has not surprised Netanyahu. Three months ago, a senior Israeli official said the Obama administration would probably put off the Israeli-Palestinian problem to his second term, explaining: ‘Now they’re weak, they have unemployment and the economic crisis, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and they aren’t emerging from that. They don’t have the strength to complete an agreement. In the meantime, the maintenance will continue.” U.S. officials are hoping talks will be renewed within six months. The main thing is that there be some negotiations. They have no expectations of more than that … In the coming weeks Israel apparently will request an American veto in the Security Council again, in order to bury the Goldstone report. Netanyahu is planning a fourth meeting with Obama, concerning the nuclear security conference in Washington on April 12 and perhaps even before then. The agenda will center on Iran – or ‘the new Amalek‘, as Netanyahu called it in Auschwitz on Wednesday. The question is whether alongside his demand that Obama take action against Iran, Netanyahu will also tell him that in exchange, Israel will take some sort of initiative vis-a-vis the Palestinians. This would be in an attempt to persuade the world to believe him and ameliorate Israel’s increasing diplomatic isolation”. This article can be read in full on Haaretz’s website here.

According to another report also posted this evening in Haaretz. “Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said on Saturday that he was considering the U.S. proposal to start indirect talks with Israel. Abbas was referring to a proposal made by U.S. Mideast envoy, George Mitchell, who suggested that negotiations between Israel and the PA would take place in the format of proximity talks, similar to the indirect negotiations that Israel held with Syria under Prime Minister Ehud Olmert” …

Continue reading Is there a "White Intifada"? Are negotiations on "maintenance"?