THE SPINE FEBRUARY 26, 2010
That would make one less “special envoy” in the president’s service, which couldn’t be bad.
According to Jack Khoury in Ha’aretz, the information came from “an Arab political source,” unidentified but published in Hadith a-Nass, a Nazareth-based daily (responsible, I’m told).
Mitchell’s reason for wanting to quit are said to be two. One is that he believes “that certain elements within the State Department hold biased favor toward Israel.” Historically, this would be a brand-new departure in attitude for a bureaucracy that has always been more than a bit churlish towards the Jewish state. It once was thought that Hillary Clinton, with a relatively friendly attitude towards Israel and a firm understanding of the perils it faces, might put her stamp on the department. But, as it happens, she has turned...
Parroting every false issue that comes her way, she leaps to the front of the diplomatic line to reproach Bibi Netanyahu and his government which, pressed by its hard right, has tried (valiantly, I would say) to accommodate the Palestinians. It is the Obama administration which invented the demand that Israel cease all settlement building, including in Jerusalem. Are they mad? Anyway, Hillary went along, as did groggy old George.
And now the Obami have discovered a new cause célèbre. Bibi has put on “the national heritage list” two sites that are somehow controversial, and the controversy seems to assume that the territorial issues on the West Bank are already settled. Which they are not. Not by a long shot. The sites are “Rachel’s Tomb” and the “Cave of the Patriarchs.” The first is located less than a stone’s throw from the southern lines of Jerusalem. The second is situated in hotly disputed Hebron, an ancient city in which Jews lived freely until the massacre of 1929. I don’t much like most of the present Hebron Jews, as I’ve written before. But they are certain to have a presence there regardless.
In any case, can anyone imagine that a list of national heritage sites of the Jewish people in the Jewish state would not include both the Tomb and the Cave?
So the Obama administration has not tilted towards Israel at all, regardless of what Mitchell says.
A more likely reason for Mitchell’s dyspepsia, whatever he says, is that he has been a complete flop. He has not advanced the resumption of peace negotiations, and he is not likely to. One idea he favored was to have the Palestinians negotiate not directly with Israel but indirectly through America. This has been the favored model of the Arabs for Arab-Jewish and Israel-Palestinian talks going back to the First World War. But the Palestinians haven’t even consented to this. Tiens!
As it happens, Obama rejected Mitchell’s plea that he be allowed to resign.
We are stuck with this lackluster and unimaginative man--for how long, I don’t know.