January 28th, 2009
10:53 AM ET
3 months ago

Obama envoy arrives for talks with Israelis

George Mitchell, right, meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama on Monday.
George Mitchell, right, meets with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and President Obama on Monday.

JERUSALEM (CNN) – President Obama's newly appointed envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, arrived in Israel on Wednesday as part of a new U.S. effort to work toward a broader peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israel's Foreign Ministry confirmed Mitchell arrived in Tel Aviv, and will head to Jerusalem shortly.

Watch the Muslim world react to Obama

Hours before his arrival, Israeli missiles struck several smuggling tunnels along Gaza's southern border with Egypt in response to the killing of an Israeli soldier a day earlier near the Kissufim crossing, the Israeli military said.

One of Israel's key demands in peace talks has been international help shutting down tunnels into Gaza that Israel says Hamas fighters use to smuggle weapons into the territory. Hamas - which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel - controls Gaza.

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soundoff (74 Responses)
  1. KLS

    I sure hope and pray George Mitchell can work the same magic he did in Ireland. Obama has put together a fantastic team.

    I'm glad Obama reached out to the middle east during his first few days in office. We need to keep our friends close but our enemies even closer.

    January 28, 2009 11:51 am at 11:51 am |
  2. Madge

    It took Bush 8 years to even set foot in Israel while he was president. While the Bush Admin supported Israel by word and that's good, they never negotiated any deals between the parties. He also made no decisions regarding the Philadelphi corridor, the smuggling tunnels. I'm not terribly hopeful that we or anyone can broker a lasting peace in the Middle East and Israel will continue to protect itself no matter what anyone does, but there's nothing wrong with fresh ideas. Too many people have bought into the lies about Obama and his Middle East policy, that he will negotiate with Hamas and it's simply not true. He will continue to support Israel, as will our Congress, as we have always done.

    January 28, 2009 11:52 am at 11:52 am |
  3. Mike, Syracuse NY

    barbara campbell January 28th, 2009 11:17 am ET
    President Obama is certainly working very hard to fulfill his campaign promises. I can't believe how much he has accomplished in his first week in office.

    I guess I missed it. He had a few meetings, made a few speeches, signed a few Executive Orders, all par for the course of being President. I fail to see any 'accomplishments'. I think if every other previous President had the intense second by second coverage that the MSM seems to lavish on Obama, you'd see that they did much the same. It was a nice touch to meet with republicans on the stimulus. Of course, if he fails to incorporate any of their ideas, it's all for show.

    January 28, 2009 11:53 am at 11:53 am |
  4. Steel Curtain

    Obama should keep Mitchell in the US and send Israel weapons.

    January 28, 2009 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  5. Alex

    What are Israeli's suppose to do? They pulled out of Gaza in 05 and they keep getting rocketed at. They are told they are garbage and need to be obliterated off the map.
    Don't think that that mind set doesn't want to wipe USA off the map along with western values and culture.
    Maybe the folks in Gaza should elect a government that would help build up their culture, commerce, education and standard of living instead of a bunch of terrorists.

    January 28, 2009 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  6. Tom in Delaware

    All Arab Nations have done absolutely NOTHING to promote the cause of the Palestinians (both Arab and Jew) since the Balfour Declaration after WWI, yet continue to decry that no peace can come to the Middle East unless this 'problem' is solved first.

    The only exception to that rule is the new and improved country of Iraq...gee, I wonder why???

    January 28, 2009 11:59 am at 11:59 am |
  7. LIP

    I seem to recall how optimistic Clinton was back when he made his overtures at reconciliation and failed and then W. Bush with his roadmap to peace which failed. So much optimism and so many smiles, but the problem is the people over there have an entirely different agenda then what we propose. You have to remember that Hamas has declared that they will push Israel into the sea eventually and the Iranians say "the existance of Israel is not feasible".
    So, with comments like these, is peace possible? Not hardly, but I wish them good luck and hope for the best. I have always been to idealistic though.

    January 28, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  8. Kurt C.

    LOL, what has he done since being in office? Nothing. He's basically sold Israel down the river and now he wants to talk to them.

    January 28, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  9. Dan

    This is the biggest joke. Barack Obama does not know what to do because he has no experience. George Mitchell should know that it is not Northern Ireland. It is Hamas' breeding ground and Obama had advisers linked to Hamas. We cannot forget the history. Obama gave interview to Al Arabiyah. and he admitted that he has link with Muslims.
    I do not know where this country is leading. Barack is a joke.

    January 28, 2009 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  10. David

    Mitchell is a scumbag. He is CFR, Bilderberg and is not in the country's best interest in anything.

    January 28, 2009 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  11. Larry Houston TX

    In Iraq, it's all about religion....(sunnis vs shiites)
    In Palestine – It's all about the land.....( Israel vs Palestine)That being said : They CAN acheive peace – If the United States
    does it the way Bush # 41 did....Remember ? when Bush # 41 did not allow Iraq & Saddam's Republican Guard INVADE Kuwait ? and "Stormin Norman"
    did the Job on the ground ? and we went to the Air, and drove them back to Iraq ?If we did the same thing back in 1967, when Israel INVADED Palestine, we wouldn't be in the same problem....But instead,
    the United States (at that time) sent Tanks & Warplanes to Israel...So, this means, If they went back to the 1967 map drawings, there would be peace, I think...

    January 28, 2009 12:06 pm at 12:06 pm |
  12. Pepou

    I hope he succeeds. And hope that the Israelis will stop all settlements to begin with.

    January 28, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  13. arie

    in a piece of land as small as israel, with both sides wanting complete control- there will never be peace. there will never be peace because of the extremists on both sides........i think this all comes down to human nature. there is no 'right' or 'wrong', just 2 groups pf people who are 'asleep' and keep perpetuating the same behaviors.

    January 28, 2009 12:11 pm at 12:11 pm |
  14. Meka

    Hamas is no more Terrorist, than Israel. Just why did Israel forbid any Journalist to enter Gaza ?

    WE ALL KNOW THE ANSWER !

    January 28, 2009 12:14 pm at 12:14 pm |
  15. Ian

    Why would Israel be top on his list of things to do in his first days of office? Considering the state of our country, perhaps we shouldn't be spending this money on other countries.

    January 28, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  16. Brian G, Sugar Land, TX

    Complicated issue Isreal/Palistine. Both have Biblical genealogical claim to the land. Both have lived on it for varying periods since the time of Abraham.

    Maybe the land should be taken away from both groups until they learn to play nice. Let's say we flood the entire area or sink it beneath the sea. Worked for Atlantis.

    "Imagine there's no Holy Land
    It isn't hard to do.
    Nothing to kill or die for.
    Neither Palistinian or Jew..."

    January 28, 2009 12:15 pm at 12:15 pm |
  17. Roy

    Israel seems to be turning into the same kind of power that it has been fighting against all these years...a totalitarian government acting unilaterally. If this is our ally, they need to start acting like it. It is sad that the American Jewish Committee has to resort to running radio ads trying to defend their actions in Gaza. Funny how we hear no radio ads from the other side in this conflict.....
    I am pro-Obama, but he needs to address the 'Israel problem' that is hindering any peace between America and the Muslim world.

    January 28, 2009 12:16 pm at 12:16 pm |
  18. Mary - Independent

    Obama is using good strategy in trying to make a positive direction towards foreign affairs. Israel needs to slow down and stop this battle with Gaza. Innocent people are getting killed and there needs
    to be a compromise between sides.

    January 28, 2009 12:20 pm at 12:20 pm |
  19. savvy

    Is there a way we can force our government to stop sending our tax money to Israel that uses it to kill innocent children in cold blood. We need every penny of our money to put our deteriorating economy back on the right track

    January 28, 2009 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  20. Vietnam Vet

    All we need to do is tell Iseral we will stop sending then aid, then they will lift the blockade and threat the Palestians like human beings. All one had to do was view 60 minutes Sunday, They only care about them selves and anyone who disagree are anti-semetic. Wakup America

    January 28, 2009 12:22 pm at 12:22 pm |
  21. Shari, NY

    This business of being "with us or against us" is the quintessence of arrogance. America's biased sympathetic ear where this region's crisis is concerned is the CRUX of many of its own problems. If President Obama's team can thaw things even slightly it would be a blessing.

    January 28, 2009 12:23 pm at 12:23 pm |
  22. RJN

    What is Hillary's job again???
    I just see her deligating all her duties shouldn't she get a pay cut??

    January 28, 2009 12:24 pm at 12:24 pm |
  23. Christa

    lizz – They can't stop fighting and live peacefully because Hamas wants to annihilate Israel. Every time there is a cease fire Hamas lobs rockets over to Israel until they kill someone. Then, Israel defends itself, the mainstream media makes ilizz – They can't stop fighting and live peacefully because Hamas wants to annihilate Israel. Every time there is a cease fire Hamas lobs rockets over to Israel until they kill someone. Then, Israel defends itself, the mainstream media makes it appear that Israel is the aggressor, there is worldwide outcry against Israel because of the many Palestinian deaths(which have actually been brought on by the Hamas aggression) and so goes the story on and on and on and......... until Palestinians get rid of Hamas.

    Please post this CNN. Some people want to know the truth about this matter.

    January 28, 2009 12:29 pm at 12:29 pm |
  24. Diane

    lizz – these people can't stop fighting and live peacefully for one reason – religion.

    January 28, 2009 12:35 pm at 12:35 pm |
  25. Sharon Kitchen

    God be with him.
    He has a very tough task before him.

    January 28, 2009 12:37 pm at 12:37 pm |
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