New Mideast Envoy Is Old Hand at Peacemaking
Israel-Palestine negotiations just 'another assignment' for Mitchell
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Jan 24, 2009 10:44 AM CST
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton takes center stage with President Obama, VP Biden, and George Mitchell, right, and Special Rep. to Pakistan and Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, left, Jan. 22, 2009.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
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(Newser) – As the Obama administration’s new Middle East envoy, former Sen. George Mitchell has  the toughest of diplomatic tasks on his hands: negotiating peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. But “if anyone can succeed in this difficult endeavor," it's Mitchell, said Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid. Mitchell was instrumental in Northern Ireland peace talks—and he’s faced a range of other battles including steroid use in baseball and corporate infighting, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Mitchell is noted for creative peacemaking tactics: In Northern Ireland, for example, he forced quarreling leaders to eat together without discussing politics; and when a deadline approached, he sped a resolution by threatening to leave the next day regardless of the result, the Boston Globe reports. The former senator is known for neutrality and compromise. In a previous Middle East deal, “neither side was entirely happy, and that was a good thing,” said a Palestinian negotiator.