Rassegna Stampa Elezioni Israeliane 2009

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Prominent mediator is said to be candidate for Mideast envoy

Posted by claudiacampli su 19 gennaio, 2009

IHT

By Elisabeth Bumiller

Published: January 19, 2009

WASHINGTON: People close to Secretary of State-designate Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sunday that George Mitchell, a former Senate majority leader and the chairman of a Middle East peace commission in 2001, was a leading candidate to be the Obama administration’s special envoy to the Middle East.

The appointment of Mitchell, a seasoned and well-regarded negotiator, would signal that President-elect Barack Obama was attaching a high priority to the Middle East and the Gaza crisis from his first days in office. Obama transition officials declined to comment, but David Axelrod, Obama’s senior adviser, told CNN on Sunday that Obama would move quickly to address the instability in the Middle East and hoped that the new cease-fire between Israel and militants in Gaza would last.

“Let me say that all of us are hopeful that a cessation of violence will hold,” Axelrod said.

Mitchell, 75, was appointed in 2000, in the waning days of the Clinton administration, to lead an international commission to investigate the causes of the continuing violence in the Middle East. He released a report in the spring of 2001, during the early days of the Bush administration, that called for a freeze on the growth of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and a Palestinian crackdown on terrorism.

Mitchell also earned wide praise for his role as a mediator in the Northern Ireland negotiations from 1996 to 1998 that led to the Good Friday agreement that ended 30 years of strife in the province.

Other Middle East specialists said Sunday that Mitchell would be seen by both sides as a tougher but more balanced negotiator than recent envoys.

Mitchell has Lebanese as well as Irish roots: His father, Joseph Kilroy, was an orphan adopted by a Lebanese family whose Arabic name had been anglicized to Mitchell, and Mitchell was raised a Maronite Catholic by his Lebanese mother. His appointment would be a strong suggestion “that Obama is going to free himself of the exclusive relationship that we’ve had with the Israelis,” said Aaron David Miller, a public policy analyst at the Woodrow Wilson International Center.

“This is the clearest indication to me that they’re trying to inject more balance into the Israeli-U.S. relationship,” he said.

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