Obama Appoints New Mideast Envoy, Comments on Gaza

January 23, 2009

President Barack Obama has earned early accolades for appointing former Senator George Mitchell to be his Middle East envoy.  Mitchell, the son of an Irish father and Lebanese mother, was the Senate Majority leader and served 15 years in the Senate.  Best known for his work on Northern Ireland and his most recent investigation on performance enhancing drugs in baseball, Mitchell is being praised by both Jewish and Arabs groups for his balanced approach to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee, said Mitchell could be a “good and logical choice.” Laila Al-Qatami, the communications director for the Arab Ant-Discrimination Committee said, “George Mitchell is an exceptionally well qualified and highly respected public servant.”

Meanwhile, in a statement that shows Obama’s willingness to look at both sides of the Gaza crisis, he showed sympathy both for the loss of civilian life in Israel as well as the stifling poverty in Gaza. He said,

“Now, just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians. I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days, and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza. Our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water, and basic medical care, and who have faced suffocating poverty for far too long.”