Tales from the Trail

George Mitchell returns to law firm after 2 years as Mideast envoy

George Mitchell says he doesn’t believe in retirement.

After two years focusing on Middle East peace for President Barack Obama, he returned Monday to the law firm DLA Piper as chairman emeritus.

In an interview with Leigh Jones of Reuters, Mitchell said Israelis and Palestinians have mutual interests. Palestinians won’t get statehood unless Israel gets security, and vice versa.

“If you can make sure the agreement has the central demand of each side, you can get an agreement,” he said.

Mitchell resigned from the Middle East special envoy post in March, having served the two years he had promised the president.  “I told him that I was interested and would serve, but that I could not do it for a whole presidential term. I had children late in life.” Mitchell, who is 77, said he did not want to spend too much time away from his family.

“My only objective was to serve the best I could to advance the objective that we all seek comprehensive peace in the Middle East, recognizing the enormous difficulty, complexity and long history of the conflict,” he said.

Washington Extra – summer reading

While President Barack Obama went book shopping on Martha’s Vineyard and bought a novel about a family from the Midwest –“Freedom” by Jonathan Franzen — Vice President Joe Biden was out in the Midwest talking the talk in St. Louis. OBAMA/

VPOTUS assured Democratic Party leaders that they would retain control of Congress in November because Republicans were out of touch.  ”They are going to look at what the Republican Party is really offering — more of the past, but on steroids,” Biden said.

That brings us to the State Department press corps ALMOST asking George Mitchell about baseball pitcher Roger Clemens, but refraining and sticking to the news at hand – a fresh attempt to jumpstart Middle East peace talks with a meeting in Washington next month.

Of diplomacy and baseball…

Timing is everything in diplomacy and baseball.

After months of prickly talks aimed at coaxing Israelis and Palestinians into direct peace talks, U.S. envoy George Mitchell finally had news to share.
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But when the U.S. mediator par excellence took the stage for questions Friday at the State Department, reporters tossed him one out of left field.

“As tempted as I am to ask you about Roger Clemens…,” his first questioner began, to chortles from reporters and State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley.

Mitchell, of course, between peacemaking stints in Northern Ireland and the Middle East, took a stab back in 2007 at resolving the conflict between Congress and Major League Baseball over the use of performance-enhancing drugs.

No “no” is final, U.S. mideast peace envoy says

President Barack Obama’s mideast peace envoy George Mitchell is an unlikely optimist.

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Ten months into an assignment that has confounded generations of U.S. diplomats, Mitchell said on Wednesday he remained upbeat about bringing Israel and the Palestinians back to peace talks — thanks in part to his experience resolving another once-intractable crisis, the dispute between Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland.

Mitchell, credited with shaping the 1998 Good Friday Accord that ended that long and bloody conflict, said the key was not to lose heart.