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Sunday, February 28, 2010

Mitchell wants to quit?

Marty Peretz at New Republic jumped all over this story, but given the sources and the explanations, I would take it with a grain of salt.

Haaretz's Jack Khoury reported on Friday that US Special Middle East envoy George Mitchell asked to resign and that the Obama administration turned him down. But consider the source and the reasons given:
An Arab political source said Friday that special U.S. Mideast envoy George Mitchell has requested to resign due to his frustration with the way the Obama administration has been handling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, according to a Nazareth-based daily.

Hadith a-Nass reported that Mitchell's request stemmed partly from to his own failure to advance the resumption of peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and also from his perception that certain elements within the State Department hold biased favor toward Israel.
As much as Mitchell is biased against Israel, I find it hard to believe that he ever bought into Obama's attempt to railroad Netanyahu into a de jure freeze of construction in 'east' Jerusalem. I highly doubt that anyone other than Obama was behind that move (possibly with the goading of Obama buddy Rashid Khalidi).

Peretz doesn't buy the notion that the State Department has turned pro-Israel either.
It once was thought that Hillary Clinton, with a relatively friendly attitude towards Israel and a firm understanding of the perils it faces, might put her stamp on the department. But, as it happens, she has turned...

Parroting every false issue that comes her way, she leaps to the front of the diplomatic line to reproach Bibi Netanyahu and his government which, pressed by its hard right, has tried (valiantly, I would say) to accommodate the Palestinians. It is the Obama administration which invented the demand that Israel cease all settlement building, including in Jerusalem. Are they mad? Anyway, Hillary went along, as did groggy old George.

And now the Obami have discovered a new cause célèbre. Bibi has put on “the national heritage list” two sites that are somehow controversial, and the controversy seems to assume that the territorial issues on the West Bank are already settled. Which they are not. Not by a long shot. The sites are “Rachel’s Tomb” and the “Cave of the Patriarchs.” The first is located less than a stone’s throw from the southern lines of Jerusalem. The second is situated in hotly disputed Hebron, an ancient city in which Jews lived freely until the massacre of 1929. I don’t much like most of the present Hebron Jews, as I’ve written before. But they are certain to have a presence there regardless.

In any case, can anyone imagine that a list of national heritage sites of the Jewish people in the Jewish state would not include both the Tomb and the Cave?

So the Obama administration has not tilted towards Israel at all, regardless of what Mitchell says.
Peretz thinks that Mitchell wants to resign because he's been such a failure. I don't believe Mitchell wants to resign, but I agree that he's been a failure. Then again, given the mistrust of Obama by the average Israeli since even before he was elected, and the mood against concessions in Israel in light of the Gaza fiasco, could any envoy have succeeded in Mitchell's position? I doubt it.


At 5:42 PM, Blogger Findalis said...

And a Happy Purim to you too.


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