Obama Expected to Appoint Mitchell as Middle East Envoy
Byline: Nicholas Kralev, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
President Obama, in one of his first foreign policy decisions, will name an envoy to lead negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians as early as Wednesday and his probable choice is former Sen. George Mitchell, individuals familiar with the issue said Tuesday.
The announcement, initially expected Tuesday afternoon, was postponed a day because Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's anticipated confirmation as secretary of state was put off until Wednesday.
Malcolm Hoenlein, executive vice chairman of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, said Mr. Mitchell - a veteran negotiator who wrote a report in 2000 on steps to end Israeli-Palestinian clashes - was the front-runner for the envoy post. His selection is likely but not definite, Mr. Hoenlein said.
An individual expected to join the Obama administration confirmed that Mr. Mitchell is the leading candidate for the job. He asked not to be named because the appointment had not been announced.
Current and former U.S. officials said that if Mr. Obama was so close to making an announcement, he must have made up his mind at least a few days ago. The officials declined to confirm or deny press reports about the choice of Mr. Mitchell, saying it would be a presidential appointment and the White House should be the one to make it official.
A source close to Mr. Obama's transition team said this was the kind of decision that would be known only to the president's closest advisers. The selection was reported by The Washington Post on Tuesday.
Should Mr. Mitchell be chosen, Mr. Hoenlein said U.S. Jewish groups would work with him, noting we've worked with him in the past.
Mrs. Clinton had been expected to be confirmed by unanimous consent Tuesday, but Sen. John Cornyn, Texas Republican, put a hold on the nomination because of questions about screening foreign contributions to the foundation of her husband, former President Bill Clinton.
Making a high-profile diplomatic appointment so soon after his inauguration is meant to signal Mr. Obama's seriousness about the peace process and his determination to succeed where his predecessors have failed, officials and analysts said. …