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Obama's New Middle East Envoy By: David Bedein
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 23, 2009


Now that President Obama has appointed former Senator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy, it appears timely to reflect on George Mitchell’s 2001 Report, entitled The Mitchell Report on the Al-Aqsa Intifadeh.

To refresh the memory of the reader: In late October, 2000, US president Clinton appointed an international investigation commission to investigate the causes of renewed massive violence in Israel, naming an Arab American and former US Senator, George Mitchell, as its chairman, and a Jewish-American, also a former US senator, Warren Rudman, to the panel, together with three prominent European diplomats

Initial reaction in Israel to the publication of the Mitchell Commission report in May, 2001, evoked a sigh of relief when the Mitchell commission did not blame Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for instigating the riots in September, 2000 during his visit to the Temple Mount.

However, even with that Sharon Temple Mount accusation out of the way, the Mitchell Commission report accepted all of the PLO premises for the violence at the time.

The Mitchell commission accepted as a given that the PLO-led riots were based on a movement for "independence and genuine self-determination", without giving credence to the clearly stated PLO goal, stated in all PLO publications, maps and media outlets, even during the current Oslo process, which remains "liberation" of all of Palestine.

For some reason, the Mitchell Commission characterized the rioters armed with molotov cocktails as "unarmed Palestinian demonstrators". a term that they seemed to have borrowed from several PLO information reports that were published at the time..

The Mitchell Commission took the position that Israel's security forces did not face a clear a present danger when faced with a mob trying to kill them with rocks and firebombs

The Mitchell Commission made no mention that the PA has amassed 50,000 more weapons than they are supposed to have, in clear violation of the written Oslo accords,.

The Mitchell Commission surprisingly accepted the notion that the Palestinian Authority security officials are simply not in control of their own tightly controlled security services,

The Mitchell Commission would not consider reliable li intelligence reports which documented that the Palestinian Authority had planned the uprising, and did not relate to documentation which showed that the PA spent past seven years preparing its media, school system and security services for a violent confrontation with Israel.

The Mitchell Commission described as an Israeli "view" that the PA leadership has made no real effort to prevent anti-Israeli terrorism, ignoring the consistent incitement that Arafat has conveyed to his own media for the previous seven years.

The Mitchell Commission also rejected Israel's characterization of the conflict, as "armed conflict short of war"; (How else would you describe an army that fires mortar rounds into Israeli cities?)

The Mitchell Commission also condemned the IDF killing of PLO combat officers during a time of war, without giving an alternative as to what actions the IDF is supposed to take in any such military confrontation.

Instead of issuing a clear call to the PLO to stop sniper attacks on Israel's roads and highways, the Mitchell Commission simply "condemned the positioning of gunmen within or near civilian dwellings", leaving the observer to assume that PLO attacks from empty embankments would be acceptable.

The Mitchell Commission suggested that "the IDF should consider withdrawing to positions held before September 28, 2000, …to reduce the number of friction points", ignoring the fact that this would leave entry points to many Israeli cities without appropriate protection during a time of war.

The Mitchell Commission also demanded that Israel should transfer to the PA all tax revenues owed, and permit Palestinians who had been employed in Israel to return to their jobs, strangely recommending that Israel once again be in the position of paying the salaries of armed PLO personnel who were at war with Israel.

Meanwhile, the Mitchell Commission took a page out of Arab propaganda when it called on Israeli "security forces and settlers to refrain from the destruction of homes and roads, as well as trees and other agricultural property in Palestinian areas", and would not relate to the possibility that some of the trees and agricultural land had been razed may have been provided cover to PA security forces during combat.

The Mitchell Commission also accepted the notion that "settlers and settlements in their midst" remains a cause of the Palestinian uprising, because these Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria violate "the spirit of the Oslo process", even though not one word appears in the actual Oslo accords would require the dismemberment of a single Israeli settlement.

In conclusion, the Mitchell Commission drew a strange comparison between "settlement activities" and the Palestinian ability to resume negotiations, so long as "settlement activities" continue, introducing an excuse for the PLO to continue its armed conflict.

In short, the Mitchell Commission Report drove a nail into the coffin of any credibility that George Mitchell can ever have as a Middle East envoy.


David Bedein, author of the forthcoming book, "Swimming Against the Mainstream", has run the Israel Resource News Agency. www.IsraelBehindTheNews.com, since 1987, at the Beit Agron Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also heads the Center for Near East Policy Research and serves as the Middle East correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, www.thebulletin.us.


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