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.

MR. CROWLEY: Sure.

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“…

U.S. State Dept: "Special Envoy Mitchell Will Discuss Many Issues with the Israeli Government"

President Obama’s Special Envoy on the Middle East has arrived in Israel today, and met right off with Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Tomorrow, Thursday, Mitchell with meet with the new Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and other members of his government, including Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman. On Friday, Mitchell will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the Palestinian Presidential Headquarters, the Muqata’a, in Ramallah, and he will apparently then meet with Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, before flying out of Ben Gurion Airport to his next stop.

Today, there was this exchange between the U.S. State Department Spokesperson, and journalists in Washington:

“QUESTION: Senator Mitchell, any more details on his trip for the Gulf? And what’s his position and what’s the Administration’s position on the Saudi peace initiative?

MR. WOOD: You mean the Arab peace initiative?

QUESTION: Yeah, that was sponsored by Saudi Arabia in 2002.

MR. WOOD: Yeah, yeah, I don’t have any update on it. I mean, we still think that it has utility and – but I don’t have any update beyond what we’ve said before” …

Continue reading U.S. State Dept: "Special Envoy Mitchell Will Discuss Many Issues with the Israeli Government"

U.S. State Department on new Netanyahu government

The U.S. State Department spokesperson told journalists today that the U.S. will explain to the new Netanyahu government the American support for a two-state solution (or, the American support for the creation of a viable Palestinian state):

“QUESTION: On the topic of Benjamin Netanyahu stepping in as Israel’s prime minister today, I guess what kind of steps, if any, could we see – could we expect from the Administration regarding the – furthering the notion of a two-state solution, as well as curtailing expanding Jewish settlements in the West Bank area?

MR. DUGUID: Had the government been installed before I just walked in?

QUESTION: Yes.

MR. DUGUID: It had been installed just before I walked in. We will then, of course, meet with the new government and begin our discussions, where we will go in and explain to them what our policies are and our support for a two-state solution and the way we see the best way going forward. But I don’t have anything more than that for you, as we have just now had a new Israeli Government”.