Former Obama diplomat calls Mideast trip a success
Mitchell and Netanyahu meet in 2010.
March 23rd, 2013
06:28 PM ET
1 year ago

Former Obama diplomat calls Mideast trip a success

(CNN) - President Barack Obama's former special envoy to the Middle East lauded the president's trip to the region this week, describing it in an interview on CNN "Newsroom" on Saturday as "both significant and successful."

Obama met with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, as well as Jordan's King Abdullah before boarding his flight back to the White House Saturday morning.

George Mitchell said Obama had several successes on the trip, including bridging a diplomatic gap between two U.S. allies in the region.

"Of course the cap of it (the trip) was the reconciliation - or at least the beginning of reconciliation - between Israel and Turkey, two important allies of the United States in the region who had been at odds over the last few years," Mitchell said.

Netanyahu called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip and apologized for the 2009 incident in which nine people, mostly Turks, were killed on a flotilla headed for a port in Gaza that the Israeli military had blockaded.

This was a significant accomplishment on a trip where some political watchers have said the Obama administration did not set many expectations.

Mitchell is a former Democratic senator from Maine and served in Obama's first term administration as a special envoy seeking to bring together the Israelis and Palestinians.

He said Obama went to the region not only to speak to leaders, but also to "connect and make his case directly with the people of Israel, which I think he did very well."

While in Israel, the president delivered a major address before a group primarily made of students.

"Of course addressing the leaders of the future is always a sound thing to do in any country, including our own," Mitchell said. "So I think it was a good choice, a good decision, a good speech, well-received."

But, like many diplomatic efforts, Mitchell said, "how far it goes remains to be seen."

– CNN's Gregory Wallace contributed to this report

soundoff (8 Responses)
  1. Donna

    Did I miss something? All Obama did was talk, like he usually does. Doesn't a "success" mean something had to have gotten accomplished? I guess with Obama the bar is pretty low these days.

    March 23, 2013 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    Yeah, right.

    Obama is always right, and always successful.........it's always OTHER people that fail, or are wrong.........NEVER Obama.

    March 23, 2013 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  3. rs

    Imagine that GOP, unlike your candidate's big world trip not only did the duly elected President of the United States not embarrass himself or us, it was a diplomatic success.

    Something else you guys need to work on if you want to win national-level elections ever again.

    March 23, 2013 07:55 pm at 7:55 pm |
  4. king

    when fox news and the repubs twist this story up, it will make the presient look like he's not doing his job. these folks have not said a positive word about this president since hes been in office. now they are trying to kill obama care. hey my two sisters are working as nurses because of that law. when the facturies left america, during the bush administration, and small towns were left decimated. the health industries is the new industrial revolution, because this is what have small town america working again. if these repubs are allowed to kill obama care. these small towns will feel the same way they felt, when their neigborhood factories were packing up and moving to china again. the so called obama care has hired more people since the financial collaps than any other industry. all obama need to do is investigate about these 200 pills. and set things straight. obama care probably will be the best thing happened to this country in decades, if they do the right thing with price control.

    March 23, 2013 09:07 pm at 9:07 pm |
  5. RomneyWho

    Republican young guns, take a seat, take notes and be quiet, Obama is at work . . . This is how grownups do business.

    March 23, 2013 09:43 pm at 9:43 pm |
  6. Jeff Brown in Jersey

    Great job Mr. President!

    March 23, 2013 09:53 pm at 9:53 pm |
  7. Ram Riva

    Leave the young resolve this issue.....on both sides Israel and Palestine.....let them...with out old political leaders intervene....when you allow prejudice and hate cloud your judgment....you cannot be objective....leave the young decide by themselves their own future...

    March 24, 2013 12:31 am at 12:31 am |
  8. Norma Vessels

    Good going, President Obama. You give us more faith in you each time. Thank you.

    March 24, 2013 08:36 am at 8:36 am |