January 22nd, 2009
01:04 PM ET
11 months 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. John

    No. It's just that moronically useless, gratuitouly self-centered "oh, so, sophmorically clever" posts like yours set off the Idiot Alert...

    Ehhhhhhhhh.

    Ehhhhhhhhh.

    Ehhhhhhhhh....

    Just kidding!

    Needed to get that off my chest.

    January 22, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  2. Barbara T, Long Beach Ca

    I would like to see Mitchell, Clinton and Obama to evaulate the mideast situation fairly and without bias... that means, no blanket and blind support for all Israeli activity and actions.

    Both the Palestinians and the Israeli were wrong in this latest crisis... however, the death toll and destruction is by far not equal..

    I personally believe that if Israel instead of taking military actions in each situation was to try to enhance the lives of the Palestinian people by "building instead of destroying" they may get peace in that region... at this point their recent actions has only enhanced the hate in the muslim world...

    January 22, 2009 02:18 pm at 2:18 pm |
  3. Jose Serrano

    I'm getting tired of Israel using the Rocket attacks as an excuse for killing hundreds of people. If you were surrounded by an occupying army with checkpoints and abusive soldiers, 80% unemployment since they do not allow anyone on enter Gaza nor do they allow them to cross into Israel for Jobs.. .since they are trying to limit the "Arab" population in israel. C'mon.. rockets would be the last thing they would fear if this were americans or people Europeans.. this simply would not happen.

    Peace

    January 22, 2009 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  4. David

    Geez, another CFR/Bilderberg elitist on the team.

    January 22, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  5. tjp, valley forge, PA

    Another retread. Another dose of change....

    January 22, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  6. Stephen from Alabama

    This man can do it all...investigate steroids in baseball and broker Middle East peace!

    January 22, 2009 02:27 pm at 2:27 pm |
  7. JMac

    Good choice. I hope he does what he did in Northern Ireland.

    January 22, 2009 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  8. Steve from Florida

    Very good choice, but why is Obama appointing him? Shouldn't that be Hillary Clinton's role?

    January 22, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Silicon Valley

    George Mitchell is a smart, fair-minded Lebanese American.

    This alone seems to have the rabid Israel-firsters out there livid.

    And a good thing that is, for only when we are bold enough to seek out a just settlement which respects international law and human rights on both sides can there be a lasting peace in Israel and Palestine.

    Let us pray that we will see this in the Obama administration.

    January 22, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  10. Retreads

    Mitchell is the little p–k who stabbed Reagan in the back and caused a large buget deficit in his administration. He's also no friend to Israel.

    January 22, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  11. Lee

    Israel shoud have bulldozed Gaza flat. The Pallies deserve it by the way they act!

    January 22, 2009 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  12. Matt

    @ Lee

    That was fantastically racist!!! Do another!!

    January 22, 2009 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
  13. Ross in MD

    Thinksmart, if the death toll from the Palestinian rockets is such a horrific burden for Israel to bare, perhaps they should disband their own army. After all, more Israelis have been killed in friendly fire incidents by the Israeli army than by the rockets.

    And please don't draw equivalence between America and Israel. If America invaded Mexico, instituted a siege, and bombed humanitarian facilities then your analogy might make sense.

    January 22, 2009 02:45 pm at 2:45 pm |
  14. Rick in WA

    What do you mean wait until he does something wrong, Michael? He has already nominated Holder and Geithner, and re-authorized U.S. taxpayer subsidized abortion aid to foreign countries.

    January 22, 2009 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  15. Matt

    @ Ross in MD

    Don't forget moving into Mexico, building settlements and calling it American land.

    January 22, 2009 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  16. KampBell_BrOwn SUx

    Hey CNN,

    are you still cryin your beloved GOP didnt win this yr?? Ed henry was horrible at the press conference this morning. I hope CNN goes bankrupt with the rest of the media.

    January 22, 2009 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  17. Jane Drury, San Francisco, California

    Great choice! A fair and intelligent man.

    January 22, 2009 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  18. Proud American

    Great choice, if anyone can do that job it would be him

    January 22, 2009 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  19. wafkam

    Mitchell is an excellent choice, I only hope that in dealing with this very complex problem he will keep in mind the interest of ALL the American people and not only the interest of the the few but influential and powerful Israeli lobby in the US. He should consult his conscious and be just, courageous,and even handed in dealing with all parties concerned. Above all he should realize that solving this problem will greatly eliminate the roots of terror in our world and enhance the security of all nations including the US.

    January 22, 2009 02:55 pm at 2:55 pm |
  20. Michael

    The boundaries of a two state solution, including east Jerusalem for the Palestinians, have already been pretty much agreed to in prior talks. There are of course further issues to be hammered out, but here won't be any peace until the Palestinian leaders conclude that they have no choice but to accept Israel's right to exist and extremist groups like Hamas show no inclination of ever doing that. If they did, the pressure on Israel to conclude the peace (including from may Israelis) would be overwhelming.

    January 22, 2009 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  21. Rick in WA

    Palestinian supporters: When cowards fight without uniforms and hide behind the skirts of women and children, do you really expect that women and children will not be killed? And, whose fault is that other than the cowards?

    January 22, 2009 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  22. DanD

    George Mitchell is a intelligent, non-bias, experienced man...an excellent choice!!!

    January 22, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  23. Mark

    Rick, learn to read the whole story and not just the GOP talking points. The foreign aid groups Bush de-funded included any aid group that mentioned abortion in any context anywhere in the world, regardless of whether it was thousands of miles away and completely different programs from the aid the US was helping fund. US money is still not funding foreign abortions.

    And the only reason your lot hate Holder is that he's facing up to the fact that we are *obligated* to investigate and prosecute the war crimes committed by Bush and Cheney.

    Meanwhile, back on subject, Obama has been more constructive in engaging the Middle East in the past 24 hours than Bush has been in the past 24 months. Maybe Mitchell has a shot at making progress.

    January 22, 2009 03:02 pm at 3:02 pm |
  24. Diane Dagenais Turbide

    Excellent! This is what a competent President does in Office! Gather the best human resources to get the job done with a clear vision toward peace!

    January 22, 2009 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  25. Matt

    @ Rick

    Too bad for you none of that is illegal. Holder had no control whatsoever over Clinton's choice of whom to grant clemency. Geithner appears to be getting approval from GOP and Dems, so tough luck there. And abortion is legal in this country, so there's no reason to not include those procedures in what our aid money can be used for (keep in mind religious morality choices are not a subject for legislation, nor were they ever intended to be by our founding fathers).

    January 22, 2009 03:09 pm at 3:09 pm |
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