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. snugglebunny

    Wonderful choice!

    January 22, 2009 01:43 pm at 1:43 pm |

    throw them all in to prison for crimes against humanity NOW!

    January 22, 2009 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  3. Mel

    Great choice.This guy has a tremendous amount of experiance.He sees that the middle east problem is an Isreali and Palestinian problem as well.Many only see the Isreal side,but the people being slaughtered are on the Palestine side.Isreal does have a right to defend it self,but there has to be a way to get at the root of the Hamas terorists without killing so many innocent Palestinian people.

    January 22, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  4. Laverne

    To Tannim: Yep, to keep people like you from posting ridiculous stuff!

    January 22, 2009 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  5. The One

    Hopefully Mitchell will reiterate his prior recommendations – Israelis stop building settlements and Palestinians crack down on terror. Mitchell and Obama are smart enough to know that there can be no peace with homicidal and genocidal maniacs trying to murder all Jews. I also hope Obama talks to dinner jacket and tells him Iran is next if they don't stop funding murderers in Hezbollah and Hamas.

    January 22, 2009 01:49 pm at 1:49 pm |
  6. ShueG

    Good lord, I hope this is true. America's uneven hand on Middle East conflict is the root of terrorism and hatred towards USA and her allies. I hope Obama is smart enough not let the selfish foreign lobby steering his foreign policy as the stupid Bush did. If the congress and senate dare to pressure Obama to do something is not up for America's interest because of the super powerful xxxx lobby, he need to go in front of TV tell all of us, then we will all pick up our phones to call our district congressman and state senate to remind them who they serve! We will let our elected official know their power is granted by "we the people" not the special interest group!

    Let's pray for Obama solve this century long conflict once and for all.

    January 22, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  7. Helene

    It is a good choice and proof that President Obama is serious about solving the Middle East conflict. Something that Bush and his gang never bothered about.

    January 22, 2009 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  8. Kojeh

    An outstanding choice. The question is whether or not the US has the stomach to be impartial and even- handed in its pursuit of a just and lasting peace between these two people who share a common history.
    Time has come to end Palestinian suffering and Israeli insecurity.
    The crimes being committed on both sides should have been enough to move Bush to seek and equitable solution, but he was too keen on punitive measures against Hamas for proving how flawed his strategy of isolation was. And the using the military to implement his foreign policy has it very limited effect as Israel has found in two successive incursions into Lebanon & Gaza.
    The tragic cycle of violent recrimination and revenge is only creating a deep rooted hatred towards Israel and its chief sponsor the US. Let us hope that with a new President comes the dawn of a new era in that part of the world.

    January 22, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |


    January 22, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  10. annie

    George Mitchell was the guest speaker at the St. Louis Speaker Series Tuesday night. The first question submitted to him was whether he was ready to give the Mideast peace talks another go. He sorta groaned or sighed and responded that he would be "unable" to answer that. And there was an audible audience reaction.

    When is a non-answer an answer???

    We scooped you, CNN !!!!

    January 22, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  11. Mari

    @ TANNIM....... PLEASE STOP...... insulting Christians! President Obama is neither a savior nor messiah! He is simply a GOOD man, a brilliant man....... who will do his best to lead our Nation...... out of the .......BUSH DISASTER! He will work for your good, even though you and the other far-right-nuts wont ever acknowledge his success.

    Yes, CNN you are closing comments too quickly, give us a chance to comment. Thanks.

    January 22, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  12. Kay

    What a great person to be chosen for this position. It shows that President Obama has the best interest of this country at heart.

    January 22, 2009 01:58 pm at 1:58 pm |
  13. Mike

    Mictchell brought peace to Northern Ireland. He is our best chance at peace in the middle east. God speed.

    January 22, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  14. Sir Pirate

    Is peace a reality in the middle east? How long will the next peace treaty last. When will we ever see the end of this humanitarian crisis.

    January 22, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  15. Brian Wilson

    Reid and Pelosi are racist.

    January 22, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  16. Uncle Fester

    Tannim, maybe it is just that your commments aren't worth publishing?

    January 22, 2009 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
  17. Virginia

    Another of those "experienced" same old–same olds. Good going, Barack....

    January 22, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  18. ThinkSmart

    I supose we should seek Mexico's forgiveness if they were to start sending rockets into downtown Houston. Spirit – you obviously don't understand who the aggressor is here!

    January 22, 2009 02:04 pm at 2:04 pm |
  19. Judy Hehl

    I love your "No Bias or No Bull" slogan. You know, I haven't noticed anywhere on your website about the Freedom for Choice Act vigil that is going today – hmmmmmmmm -no bias – no bull – huh!!!

    January 22, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  20. Sevin

    Another good pick.

    January 22, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
  21. Michael Houston, Texas

    I'm glad to see President Obama not turning a blind eye to what's going on over there. And to Tannim, let President Obama do something wrong first so that your critizism can be legit.

    January 22, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  22. LIZ

    What's up with Robert Reich saying the stimulus package shouldn't help WHITE MALE CONSTRUCTION WORKERS??? Aren't they paying taxes to help pay for this package?????

    January 22, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  23. rjn

    Is this part of the bailout plan to add jobs?
    I thought the Secretary of State is the person responsible for this task?
    Obama are you not sure of your choice for SOS or was she just a political payment?

    I think you should of just chose Mitchell for SOS he is the right person for the job!!!!

    January 22, 2009 02:14 pm at 2:14 pm |
  24. nwcitizen

    Ross has shown himself incapable of being an honest broker. The larger question is whether President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton are willing to set aside their obvious bias and allow George Mitchell to work.

    January 22, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  25. Lisa

    Mitchell is a great choice. Holbrooke not so much. I haven't liked what I've seen of the latter man on the Sunday talk shows and op-ed pages. He seems very opinionated and strident, like a trial attorney – don't hire him if you want to understand how to fix a problem, just sic him on your enemy once you've already decided who that is.

    January 22, 2009 02:16 pm at 2:16 pm |
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