Monday, January 11, 2010

Ambassador Oren: Mitchell's plan of peace within 2 years is a "unrealistic goal"

(Haaretz).Israel's ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren, deemed U.S. special Middle East envoy George Mitchell's vision of peace within two years an "unrealistic goal."

Oren told The Washington Post in remarks published yesterday that Mitchell's timetable "is unrealistic and might prove counterproductive."

"We know from our experience that state-making takes a long time," he added. Oren's response came two days after Mitchell suggested that Barack Obama's administration was free to withhold loan guarantees from Israel should the latter delay the peace process any further.

Under this plan Mitchell and his staff would meet separately with both parties, present each side's positions to the other and then try to bridge the gaps. This is the same system that both George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton used (unsuccessfully) during their presidencies, for Israeli-Syrian talks.

Meanwhile, Mitchell yesterday reaffirmed Washington's support for a two-state solution to the Middle East crisis, and said a comprehensive regional peace was necessary for ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "A two-state solution is central to our peace efforts," Mitchell told journalists in Paris, after a meeting with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner.