WASHINGTON – One of Barack Obama's first moves once he is sworn in as the 44th president of the United States on Tuesday is expected to be the nomination of Senator George Mitchell (D) as his Middle East envoy.
Mitchell is no stranger to Middle East affairs, as he headed the 2001 US Administration committee tasked with probing the events leading up to the 2000 al-Aqsa Intifada.
According to the Washington Post, Mitchell's nomination suggests Obama intends to push for fast progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track. The official announcement about the nomination is expected to be published later Tuesday, once the Senate confirms Hillary Clinton as the new secretary of state.
Mitchell, 75, is considered one of Washington's prominent figures. A former House majority leader, he also served as former US President Bill Clinton's Special Envoy to Northern Ireland.
In late 2000, Clinton tasked him with compiling a report about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but the Mitchell Report was turned in after George W. Bush took office.
The report called for an immediate halt to all violence, rebuilding confidence between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as a prerequisite to any other move; a full-scale effort by the PA to prevent terrorism; the freezing of Israeli settlement activity and lifting the financial constraints placed on the territories by Israel.
The report also urged Israel to limit its use of deadly force.
The report further stated that while then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's visit to Temple Mount was not the immediate catalyst for the violence, it did serve as a provocative agent.
The report was accepted by the Sharon government and later became the basis for Bush' Road Map peace initiative.