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. A new era

    Having been in somewhat of a stalemate the last few years as far as mideast diplomacy, I feel a sense of renewal in our system to come. Instead of sitting back and continuing failed efforts to do so, President Obama is taking the lead in the effort to engage in much needed talks and difference of direction to once again put America the leader, Again...I can only hope for much peace to the future of not just the United States, but the world!

    January 22, 2009 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  2. Greed is not good

    Holbrooke should be considered too if available. Although he is Jewish has stood-up for Muslims in Bosnia at great risk to his personal safety during the Serbian offensive.

    January 22, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  3. norb

    Well if he fails he can find some more junk on Roger Clemons.

    January 22, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  4. Cathy

    We now know what the President meant when he said during the campaign that he would talk to our enemies. How refreshing that he has named two excellent individuals to lead the diplomatic efforts in the two most dangerous regiogns of the world. How refreshing that we are indeed going to talk to our enemies!.

    January 22, 2009 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. NurseVi

    Alot of people are far to quick to judge.. In order for this to be a successfull goal for this Nation, regardless of what your specific interest are or where under the Bush Admistration, We have to move forward. If not, then those of us who do not like or except the NEW administration, will find outselves in quicksand that will quickly swallow up your hopes and dreams as an AMERICAN CITIZEN!! Let's give this a chance just as that which was given to our previous President.

    January 22, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  6. John (S. Dakota)

    It seems that the Bush administration was ancient history after only two days of the Obama administration. The Obama team called the leadership in the Middle East with our choices of diplomatic appointees with a question, can you work with our choices. We're back....this is good news for all of us.

    January 22, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Harry

    Peace in the middle east?? Haven't we been there and tried that with no success. If it happens, it won't be in our lifetime!!!!

    January 22, 2009 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. amt

    Mitchell & Holbrooke of coarse are qualified & then sum, clinton is way over rated & has no experience that is why she had to lie during the campaign & fabricate Bosnia story, & bring about peace in Ireland, when it was Mitchell,obviously trying to steal other people's credit.

    January 22, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  9. Steele Curtain

    Between Obama, Hillary and now Mitchell, Israel couldn't have a weaker support from America if Hamas had done the nominating.

    January 22, 2009 03:20 pm at 3:20 pm |
  10. LIP

    Mitchell is an excellent choice...he is respected by both parties.
    Just for the record, there has been criticism about Israel and it would be only fair to point out that over the last 6 years, close to 500 Isralis have been killed by rocket attacks from Hamas. Israel has shown restrain, seen as a weakness by Hamas, thus the continued rocket attacks. It was long overdue for a response from Israel due to the fact that the UN and the media ignored their plight.
    Was it over the top, no. Hamas has poor vision and needed something to get their attention and now everyone is awake to the fact that Israel finally isn't going to take it anymore.
    Have you seen what Iran's Ahmadinejad said today..."The existance of Israel is not feasible". Need I say more. It is time for Mitchell to help solve this issue, but all parties need to come to the table with their hands open...no fists.

    January 22, 2009 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  11. Jan

    Matt January 22nd, 2009 2:48 pm ET
    @ Ross in MD
    Don't forget moving into Mexico, building settlements and calling it American land.
    Hey, Matt - don't forget to help more illegal Mexicans across the border so they can continue to bankrupt our healthcare system. And while you're at it, adopt a few Gitmo terrorists so you can all live happily ever after in the condo your parents bought for you.

    January 22, 2009 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  12. Mo Chaudhury

    It is deeply disappointing to see President Obama is just a new person with the same old line on Israel. Isarel has the right to defend itself but somehow the Palestininas do not have the right to defend their small pieces of land stnagulted by israel to start with. Is this a joke or what?

    Presdient Obama didn't even mention the war crimes of Israel. Nothing has changed. The lobbysist of Isareli government have bought out Obama like all his predecessors.

    January 22, 2009 03:33 pm at 3:33 pm |
  13. Howard

    This is a ridiculous choice. Get someone with some new thinking to do the negotiations. Someone that both sides respect.
    Look Hamas, whether we like them or not won the election. A free election, which we sanctioned and called for. Then when Hamas won, we said we would not deal with them and instead acted as though Fatah was the legitimate government of the Palestinians. Before anything should happen the Israelis need to comply with the UN mandates for them to return to their 1967 borders. The Israelis are doing to the Palestinians what the Nazis did to the Jews in Poland. Put them in a walled enclosure and terrorize them. I am sick and tired of the Israelis getting our complete support. End all aid to Israel until they return to their 1967 borders. Hamas and Fatah should recognize the Israelis right to exist and protect their citizens. Then get a neutral negotiator. Not some old Clinton retread!

    January 22, 2009 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  14. AJ

    Great, keep him away from baseball for a while

    January 22, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  15. AmericanGuy

    Mitchell is a horrible choice who doesn't understand the difference between false moral equivalence and moral clarity.

    January 22, 2009 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  16. Rob

    And his message will be: "If you're a radical Islamic terrorist, don't worry, we won't come after you." Then he starts singing the Barney theme song and they all go to bed fantasizing aboot Obama.

    Yep, change you can believe in! And soon we'll have the chemical, biological, and/or nuclear glow to prove it!

    January 22, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  17. Matt H.

    @ Matt @ Ross in MD

    We already did that... The entire Southwest United States.

    January 22, 2009 03:55 pm at 3:55 pm |
  18. Matt

    stop whining...baseball is slow and boring and takes no talent lol

    January 22, 2009 03:58 pm at 3:58 pm |
  19. Anonymous

    some change here...just the clinton admin all over again...in the words of Rush, I hope he fails

    January 22, 2009 04:11 pm at 4:11 pm |
  20. Dave

    After 8 years of lip service and half hearted leadership its certainly time for the new administration to engage in diplomacy and bring lasting peace to the region. The solution is NOT terrorism or more wars, more sanctions, higher walls, enonomic and physical isolation but a genuine, reflective, unbiased and legal/moralistic approach to get to the crux of the conflict and resolve it for the sake of innocents on both sides.

    January 22, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  21. joe

    I am just amayzed that so many people believe that CNN is pro GOP. You koolaid drinkers cannot possible believe that CNN supports the GOP??? If so you are so left that you probably would even embaress the left in this country. My suggestion is make it official and move to Russia. You would all feel right at home. Go now, quickkly, the boat is leaving

    January 22, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  22. joe smith

    the boys in Dubai must be fielding a baseball team this year..but over there, they cut your head off if you use roids..end of subject..

    January 22, 2009 04:21 pm at 4:21 pm |
  23. Jim Harvey

    Ask yourself, you people who elected Obama, why Obama has chosen old, experienced people to advise him. Could it be that he is smart enough to know he is above his head in his new job without people who can tell him what he should do?

    January 22, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  24. DanD

    Hey," Anonymous" Clinton era was million times better than BUSH & DICK criminal gang, who destroyed America financially, and morally, and reputitition around the world.
    Obama era is going to be the best for our country...
    Please let us know when you are done crying LOL

    January 22, 2009 05:05 pm at 5:05 pm |
  25. Matt

    They have to have him for two reasons. One is that no one wants to deal with Hillary Clinton and they don't want a return to the days of how bad Bill Clinton and his ego messed the peace talks up. And the second is to have a back up for when Hillary falls flat on her face and has to be removed as the SOS.

    Or we could just go with the "change" everybody wants and change our level of involvement in the peace process. Maybe it is time for the USA to step back and let someone else try and broker peace. It's long overdue for European Nations to start stepping up and getting involved in the world and stop playing back seat driver all the time.

    January 22, 2009 05:07 pm at 5:07 pm |
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