President Barack Obama today announced that he had asked George Mitchell, the former Senate Democratic leader, to serve as special Mideast envoy. This is a big step towards making good on his campaign pledge to be more robustly involved in efforts to help with peace efforts in the volatile region.
George Mitchell returns to a similar role to the one he pursued during President Bill Clinton's presidency when the former senator took on several difficult diplomatic assignments, including chairing peace talks on Northern Ireland.
Mitchell also led an international commission to investigate violence in the Middle East. His report, issued in spring 2001, after Clinton had left office, called for a freeze on Israeli settlements on the West Bank and a Palestinian crackdown on terrorism.