Mitchell Envoy : Positive Ambiguity or End of Permissiveness?
By FREDERICK C. BUTLER
CNI Communications Director
What motivates a 75 year-old man at the end of an immaculate career as a politician and negotiator, to undertake the daunting task of brokering peace in the Middle East?
A special envoy led by, US Senator George Mitchell, has returned to Washington after conducting a "fact-finding" mission through the politically thorny region. The envoy is set to return shortly after the Israeli elections February 10th.
Mitchell's homecoming was accompanied by cloudy reports of an Egyptian-led ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas. Surfacing in the international media, the rumored truce comes days after reports of George Mitchell's meetings with the Egyptian government.
"All I know is that there are positive signals. We are heading toward a right direction, toward a cease-fire. I do believe that they will find a way in the next couple of days for them to announce something," said Gaza based deputy foreign minister Ahmed Youssef.
The agreement has already been repudiated by Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, and not confirmed by the Egyptian officials. However, the Jerusalem Post is reporting that a one-year peace deal has been tentatively agreed upon. The arrangement would open up the Rafah crossing, and charge the Palestinian Authority with guarding the southern border alongside Egyptian authorities.
Some experts deemed this byzantine issue nearly impossible to resolve. But for the former Nobel peace prize nominee, brokering a lasting peace deal in the embattled region would be a perfect swan song.
George Mitchell was under the radar while performing preliminary talks with Middle Eastern leaders. The press did not accompany the heralded negotiator and he sparingly responded to reporters.
The Obama Administration has yet to confirm or deny whether Mitchell had any influence on the rumored peace deal. Also, Obama hasn't acknowledged whether such negotiations ever took place.
But, knowing the skillfulness of the tactful negotiator and the moral composition of our president-- the cloud of uncertainty surrounding the Holy Land could soon rain hope.
CNI will continue to monitor the Israeli/Palestinian peace process, and will keep you informed as news develops.