Israeli Official: Obama Envoy Coming To Mideast

President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East will come to Israel Wednesday for talks on keeping alive a fragile Gaza cease-fire and reviving Mideast negotiations, an Israeli foreign ministry official said Saturday.

It is the new administration's first direct move into Mideast peace efforts.

George J. Mitchell will meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and senior Israeli officials, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Washington has not officially announced the trip.

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton introduced Mitchell in his new role Thursday. His appointment is seen as signaling a renewed push under the Obama administration for a resolution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Mitchell will also visit Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at their headquarters in the West Bank, the official said.

The official said Mitchell will discuss restarting Israeli-Palestinian peace talks after Israel's three-week offensive in the Gaza Strip, and ways to impose an effective arms blockade against the Hamas militants who rule Gaza and have been firing rockets into Israel for years.

The arms embargo and the opening of the blockaded territory's borders are key to sustaining separate cease-fires by Israel and Hamas.

In Washington, the White House and State Department declined to comment, but diplomats familiar with Mitchell's travel plans said he would visit Israel and the West Bank with possible stops in Egypt and Jordan on a tour that could last eight to 10 days.

His exact itinerary is not yet settled, the diplomats said, but he will be working to secure an Israel-Hamas cease-fire, improve the humanitarian situation for Gazans and gauge prospects for continuing the peace process.

The diplomats also spoke on condition of anonymity because the trip had not been formally announced.

Mitchell, a retired Senate majority leader, was a key player in Northern Ireland peace talks in the 1990s and later led an international commission to investigate violence in the Middle East. His report, issued in 2001, called for a freeze on Israeli settlements in the West Bank and a Palestinian crackdown on terrorism.

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  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Jan 26, 2009 at 04:33 AM
    Ryan; Touche.:)
  • by Coach M Location: Rocky Mount on Jan 25, 2009 at 10:36 PM
    Ryan: "Somehow, I get a twisted, perverse kick out of the neo-cons continually eggin' on Armageddon!" In the movie 'Death Sentence' a mild mannered man had his son brutally killed by a group of punks and set out to revenge his son's death. The police captain asked the father, "What did YOU do to bring this gang down upon you?" My point is that the U.S. is not egging anything on. Terrorists did this on 9/11 and other such occurances. You poke a hornets nest with a stick and get stung, don't ask why they stung you.
  • by Ryan Location: Winterville on Jan 25, 2009 at 01:25 PM
    Thanks for your predictable angry bile and post filled with Rush like right wing cliche. You did not dissapoint. For the record (and for what little it is worth, but you made the assumptions so I'll respond): age 48, occupation M.D., not Ph.D, moderate in politics, will vote "R" or "D". But I suspect that you might be so far to the right continuum that anything left of Sean Hannity is a "liberal" (said with prerequisite snarl and scorn). Now, enjoy what is "left" of your weekend and relax some.
  • by WOLFGANG Location: CHOCOWINITY,NC on Jan 25, 2009 at 12:50 PM
    President Bush and Israel - Throughout his presidency, George W. Bush has been a stalwart friend of the Jewish people. Bush’s support for Israel was rock solid, as was his opposition to anti-Semitism, which was on the rise globally during his administration. As an opponent of anti-Semitism, Bush was vocal and vociferous. In May 31, 2003, the President visited Auschwitz and made a statement that was also his policy: “This site is a sobering reminder that when we find anti-Semitism, whether it be in Europe or anywhere else, mankind must come together to fight such dark impulses.
  • by VBush Location: MHCY on Jan 25, 2009 at 12:06 PM
    Smug little college pukes with heads full of mush poured in from their liberal panty waisted professors, using terms like neo-con will be lucky if they live to grow up and actually see the world as it is instead of spewing out the bilge that they hear in their lectures. You are being preached to by the bums that were smoking dope and tripping on acid, and ignoring personal hygiene to a fault during the sixties. (probably department heads). The rest are their cronies that never realized they are full of bovine excrement. There mantra was 'don't trust anyone over 30' Ignorance has run amuck ever since. Now we have the blind leading the blind and paying 20-50K a year for the privilege. Get back to us when you are actually over 30 and have had a real job for awhile. Until then, your opinion matters not. Note to Editor: I did not call anyone out.
  • by Ryan Location: Winterville on Jan 25, 2009 at 09:10 AM
    Somehow, I get a twisted, perverse kick out of the neo-cons continually eggin' on Armageddon! I can see them now: cowering, chicken-hawking, and complaining to each other on the Last Great Message Board about the the divine unfairness and conspiracy as they remain here after the Rapture. Carry on boys.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Jan 25, 2009 at 06:41 AM
    This should be very interesting. Like a big game of Chess. If he seems to side with Israel, he will tick off the Arab world for the rest of his term as President. If he goes against Israel, then he will have a lot more Americans that do not like him. Like he needs that. So he will probaly contradict himself for the next 5 days until he can try to come up with a political correct move that will satisfy everyone. All I can say is GOOD LUCK!
  • by Mike Location: Edenton on Jan 25, 2009 at 04:20 AM
    Yeah, they will be threatening to withhold aid from ISRAEL if they don't stop harassing HAMAS. Never mind Israel's tremendous retraint in dealing with the rockets that were fired FIRST!

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