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George Mitchell Resigns as UN Envoy

Special Envoy Goorge J. Mitchell

George Mitchell, the US envoy to the Middle East and the man charged with reconciling the Israelis and the Palestinians, has resigned. Here is his statement, in a letter to the President.

When I accepted your request to serve as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace my intention was to serve for two years. More than two years having passed I hereby resign, effective May 20, 2011. I trust this will provide sufficient time for an effective transition.

I strongly support your vision of comprehensive peace in the Middle East and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part ofyour administration. It has been an honor for me to again serve our country.

Mitchell, the former Senate Majority Leader, failed in his mission to achieve peace in the Middle East. There’s no shame in that – the line of failed envoys is long and distinguished. And maybe as much as anyone else, Mitchell had no tools to work with. This is someone who brokered peace in Northern Ireland, but couldn’t even get things started in the Middle East. The Palestinians were factionalized and fractured, a situation that only now is resolving itself. And the Israeli government has no interest in peace. In fact, peace is the greatest threat possible to their electoral coalition. In addition, in brokering peace the main intermediator Mitchell would turn to was Hosni Mubarak, now under Egyptian detention. More on all of this here.

The timing of this announcement, just as the President plans a major speech on the Arab world next week, and with Benjamin Netanyahu headed to the US for talks at the White House, is significant.

Deputy Middle East envoy David Hale will serve as acting envoy when Mitchell leaves, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t replaced at all. There is no Middle East peace process right now, and there won’t be without different leadership. The real transformative event is the proposal by Palestine to apply to the UN General Assembly for statehood in September. This could really happen, and the US or its allies would have no veto power, unlike with a Security Council resolution.

CommunityThe Bullpen

George Mitchell Resigns as UN Envoy

George Mitchell, the US envoy to the Middle East and the man charged with reconciling the Israelis and the Palestinians, has resigned. Here is his statement, in a letter to the President.

When I accepted your request to serve as U.S. Special Envoy for Middle East Peace my intention was to serve for two years. More than two years having passed I hereby resign, effective May 20, 2011. I trust this will provide sufficient time for an effective transition.

I strongly support your vision of comprehensive peace in the Middle East and thank you for giving me the opportunity to be part ofyour administration. It has been an honor for me to again serve our country.

Mitchell, the former Senate Majority Leader, failed in his mission to achieve peace in the Middle East. There’s no shame in that – the line of failed envoys is long and distinguished. And maybe as much as anyone else, Mitchell had no tools to work with. This is someone who brokered peace in Northern Ireland, but couldn’t even get things started in the Middle East. The Palestinians were factionalized and fractured, a situation that only now is resolving itself. And the Israeli government has no interest in peace. In fact, peace is the greatest threat possible to their electoral coalition. In addition, in brokering peace the main intermediator Mitchell would turn to was Hosni Mubarak, now under Egyptian detention. More on all of this here.

The timing of this announcement, just as the President plans a major speech on the Arab world next week, and with Benjamin Netanyahu headed to the US for talks at the White House, is significant.

Deputy Middle East envoy David Hale will serve as acting envoy when Mitchell leaves, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t replaced at all. There is no Middle East peace process right now, and there won’t be without different leadership. The real transformative event is the proposal by Palestine to apply to the UN General Assembly for statehood in September. This could really happen, and the US or its allies would have no veto power, unlike with a Security Council resolution.

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David Dayen

David Dayen