January 22nd, 2009
01:04 PM ET
4 years ago

Obama to name Mitchell Mideast envoy at State event today

Mitchell has been tapped as Mideast envoy.

Mitchell has been tapped as Mideast envoy.

WASHINGTON (CNN) - CNN has learned that President Obama will name former Senate Majority Leader George Mitchell as his special envoy for the Middle East during an event at the State Department Thursday afternoon, according to a senior administration official.

Related: Mitchell is a seasoned foreign policy veteran

The move, which is meant to send the signal that Obama is planning to get actively involved in trying to help broker Mideast peace early in his term, will be announced at a 2:40 pm ET event with newly sworn-in Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

In recent days, Obama officials have talked to Israeli, Palestinian and Arab diplomats about the choice, sources close to the administration and diplomats told CNN.

Mitchell served as a Mideast envoy for the Bush administration, authoring a 2001 report that called for a halt to Israeli settlements and greater Palestinian efforts to crack down on terror.

He also was a peace broker on Northern Ireland for President Clinton.

Mitchell is one of several envoys who will work in the new administration. Sources say that Dennis Ross, a former Mideast peace envoy for several previous administrations, will be an envoy in charge of engaging Iran, but it’s unclear what role he’ll play given Mitchell’s appointment. Former UN Ambassador Richard Holbrooke, who negotiated peace in the Balkans, is also expected to be named as an envoy dealing with Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.

soundoff (105 Responses)
  1. Tannim

    Gee, what's with CNN closing comments on other threads after 2 to 10 people comment only? Is Messiah criticism now banned at CNN?

    January 22, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  2. Dissent Is Cool

    I hope Mitchell is up to the task. He cannot be another Dennis Ross– lamely blaming Palestinians for the failure of Camp David, instead of US officials who failed to overcome their own pro-Israel prejudices.

    Mitchell has to be tough and even-handed, which Ross was not.

    I'm glad Obama is tackling this isssue now, instead of waiting until the end of his presidency like Presidents before him.

    January 22, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  3. Diane

    Excellent choice!

    January 22, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  4. Spirit of America

    Mitchell is a good man and good choice. His first visit should be to Gaza to ask the many families of the dead and wounded for their forgiveness and blessing.

    January 22, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  5. Eliane

    President Obama.

    January 22, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  6. Eliane

    President Obama CNN – Give the PRESIDENT SOME RESPECT!

    January 22, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  7. Amber

    No Tannim @ 1:07 pm, but whiny imbecilic attention scoring comments should be...

    Back to topic:

    If ANYONE from the United States can broker Middle East peace, then it's someone who has Hussein for a middle name. Now we can finally have a Middle East peace strategy that isn't steeped in End Times mysticism.

    Water rights. Not God or Allah, but water rights is all this boils down to.

    January 22, 2009 01:19 pm at 1:19 pm |
  8. John Kent

    Mitchell is a pretty good choice. The international community is aware of his role in helping broker good results in Northern Ireland. He has a track record and, importantly, integrity.

    January 22, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  9. Give me a break!

    Excellent! I get more "giddy" about our new President and his leadership every day! All you haters just need to look in the mirror, tell yourselves "it will be ok" and get to work making this country a better place. We need you – and want you – to come along with us!

    January 22, 2009 01:20 pm at 1:20 pm |
  10. Kevin in Ohio

    Spirit... I have no doubt that is just what this idiot will do..... he hates Israel, and will placate the terrorists. We are doomed.

    January 22, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. BB

    You're an idiot Tannim. Drop the snarky remarks. We don't need it.

    January 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. Merle


    January 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  13. Kevin in Ohio

    By the way.... why is there no blame for Palestinians who repeatedly lobbed rockets in to Israel? Israel's patience simply finally wore thin.
    Yours would have as well.

    January 22, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. yellowbmblbee

    Great choice....

    January 22, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. Brooke in PA

    Dissent is Cool, do you even know anything about Dennis Ross's work in the Middle East? He didn't lay all the blame on the Palestinians but his blame was warrented. I love George Mitchell and he'll be fantastic, but Dennis was a phenomonal negotiator. Try reading his book, you might learn something.

    January 22, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  16. X in Ann Arbor

    Tannim – get a grip.

    January 22, 2009 01:26 pm at 1:26 pm |
  17. richard

    Death to the Palestinians terrorist and anyone that supports them. I would rather live my whole life under the Israel government than one day under murdering Palestinians. Democrats will always side with the murderers and thugs of the world, and people who will not tolerate others religion.

    January 22, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  18. Luis

    Outstanding selection and the timing could not be more appropriate. This is a signal to the Middle East that President Obama means business about wanting to help bring about serious and lasting peace in the region now, and not at the end of his presidency like several of his predecesors have done.

    January 22, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  19. richard

    Looks like CNN is only letting pro palestinians comments thru. SHAME ON YOU !!!!!!!!

    January 22, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  20. tom

    Tannim – you got it right.

    January 22, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  21. Larry C. in Houston TX

    did you read the 3rd paragraph from the botom ? where it says :

    "authorizing a 2001 report that called for a halt to Israeli settlements"

    so that being said : why don't they just name Gaza "Palistine" ?
    if there is 1.5 million palestinians live there, why not name that area
    Palestine ????

    Reason : Israel does not want that, period…..They like expanding their homes / houses / businesses / buildings / & etc FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE , period…..

    For some odd reason, they do not want to just stay in Jerusalem / Tel – Aviv & other towns in ISRAEL…..

    Can you imagine, if Canada done this to N.Y. ? & move THEIR PEOPLE / Build Houses / on U.S. soil ????

    SO, all this being said……every president had the same problem since 1948…….and every president of the u.s. will continue to have the same 'ol problem……(the arabs & jews will fight til the end of time)
    There will be NO President that will ever fix it, until Israel quits building settlements on THEIR LAND !!

    January 22, 2009 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  22. Matt

    First thing he should do is tell both sides we no longer support either of them until there is a durable cease-fire in place, including provisions like Israelis stopping their occupation of Palestinian lands and Hamas firing rockets at Israel. Then, promise them both we will provide 100% support to the victim the first time either of them breaks the cease-fire. Sure, it won't be popular with one of the biggest lobbies in America, but it's the right thing to do. enough is enough from both of them.

    January 22, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  23. kat

    Amazing. Day 2 he takes on Israel/Palestine! Wow!

    January 22, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  24. Greta Palinannitylimbaughbeck

    Did anyone else notice the look of jubilation and relief on the faces of the State Department employees when Hillary walked in to announce that she, President Obama and VP Biden would be in charge and having a meeting with them this afternoon? Amazing what a little intellectual nutrition will do for a starved staff of great potential and competence.

    January 22, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  25. RickLattimer

    Mitchell will find out all other countries use steroids.

    January 22, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
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