Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Sen. George Mitchell Describes U.S. Role in Talks as "Imperative"

Magazine article Washington Report on Middle East Affairs

Sen. George Mitchell Describes U.S. Role in Talks as "Imperative"

Article excerpt

Retired Sen. George Mitchell (D-ME) and Alon Sachar, former adviser to U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, spoke Dec. 9 at San Francisco's Commonwealth Club in a noon program moderated by former U.S. Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich.

In addition to tackling the topic "How the Next U.S. President Should Handle Israel & Palestine," the two Middle East experts discussed why they co-authored A Path to Peace: A Brief History of Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations and a Way Forward in the Middle East.

"The book was completed prior to the election and we didn't know who would be elected when we wrote these words," said Mitchell, who served as Middle East envoy to two U.S. presidents. "We'll see what plans the new administration has, but we think it is very much in the interests of our country that we seek to bring about peace between Israelis and Palestinians and stability throughout that region to the extent that we can do so."

Acknowledging the many failed efforts over decades to bring peace to the region, Mitchell explained, "Alon and I believe that there is no such thing as a conflict that can't be ended. Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings, and they can be ended by human beings."

Sachar, a former adviser to both Mitchell and Middle East envoy David Hale, explained why he and Mitchell believe the twostate solution is the only viable one to bring peace between Israelis and Palestinians.

"I believe that partition is inevitable because of all the reasons that led the U.N. to partition the land in 1947, which is that Israeli and Palestinian national, economic and political priorities are just totally incompatible and different, and that trying to resolve those within one entity would lead to inter-communal violence and a ton of death and destruction," Sachar argued. "Both Palestinians and Israelis need a state," he added, "and it is a lose-lose proposition for both sides if this conflict continues. …

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