Senator George Mitchell is one of America’s most impressive public servants.
He has served the state of Maine well, chaired any number of commissions for various presidents since his senate retirement and patiently plodded through years of work and negotiations with historically opposed foes in the Northern Ireland peace process and achieved peace.
However, he may not be the right envoy to restart Israeli-Palestinian talks.
Mitchell telegraphed the problem from the day that Barack Obama, the US president, announced his appointment on the first work day of the new administration.
Mitchell said that all parties would have to be patient and that it takes years for a process such as the one being envisioned – to create peace between two eventually viable states of Israel and Palestine – to come to fruition.
However, he failed to acknowledge that the negotiations over what Palestine would eventually become have been taking place for decades and have involved many US presidents.
He is not starting at zero and there is not much time left to achieve a new and more constructive ‘equilibrium’ between Israel and Palestine. I prefer the term ‘equilibrium’ over the more hopeful and naïve goal of ‘peace’. [continued…]