After days of rumors, President Obama has officially named George Mitchell as a special envoy to the Middle East. In 2001, Mitchell led a commission to study the conflict between the Israelis and the Palestinians. While the group’s report (available here) is a bit dated now, it does provide a sense of how Mitchell views the conflict. Overall, the report reflects the type of thinking that is typical of the so-called “even handed” approach to the conflict which laments the cycle of violence, calls for confidence building measures on both sides, and endless negotiations. “In their statements and actions, each side demonstrates a perspective that fails to recognize any truth in the perspective of the other,” the commission observed. In an effort to achieve artificial balance, the report downplayed the extent to which Arafat’s PLO continued to pursue terrorism during Oslo and the way it helped orchestrate the Second Intifada.
Those who consider themselves the responsible ones in Washington are obsessed with a never-ending peace process, regardless of whether it ever achieves any actual peace. The jury is still out on the Israeli incursion into Gaza, but it’s pretty clear that Hamas will still be a potent force on the Palestinian side, and peace will never be possible so long as that is the case.
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