Just hours before his visit, according to JTA, foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman told Israel Radio that there is no chance for peace anytime soon, and that Israel and the Palestinians should instead work out interim agreements.
This wasn’t just concern or doubt he was expressing, but a flat-out repudiation of one of the core elements of Obama administration foreign policy. And it’s a guaranteed nonstarter with the Palestinians and their supporters.
Mitchell heard a completely different message from President Shimon Peres, according to the Jerusalem Post; Peres warned that time is running out for progress in Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Ha’aretz reports Mitchell is “hopeful” Israeli-Palestinian talks can begin soon, but in this case it’s hard to see the distinction between “hopeful” and “wishful.”
Meanwhile, the Obama administration is preoccupied with the necessity of making a lose-lose decision on Afghanistan and fast-moving developments in the Iran crisis.
Mitchell may be a dogged peacemaker, but it’s hard to see this administration investing heavily in resolving an Israeli-Palestinian conflict in which neither side seems particularly anxious to take the steps real negotiations will require.