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Benjamin Netanyahu, Prime Minister of Israel addressed the United Nations General Assembly.

Benjamin Netanyahu UN General Assembly
Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly.
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George Mitchell, A Mideast Envoy With A Tendentious Legacy

January 24, 2009  |  David Bedein
Jerusalem - Following President Obama's appointment of former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell of Maine as his Middle East envoy, it may be instructive to remember the tendentiousness of George Mitchell's 2001 report titled "The Mitchell Report on the al-qsa Intifadah" (

This genesis of this report stemmed from President Bill Clinton's Oct. 2000 appointment of an international investigation commission to determine the causes of the Palestinian insurrection, which was deemed the Second Intifada - the Arabic term for "shaking off" - in this instance, shaking off Israel. To this commission, President Clinton named Sen. Mitchell, who is of Arab descent through his mother, as its chairman, along with a Jewish-American, former U.S. Sen. Warren Rudman, to the panel, in addition to three prominent European diplomats.

The initial Israeli response to the publication of the Mitchell Commission report in May 2001 was a sigh of relief when the Mitchell Commission did not blame Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon for instigating the riots in Sept. 2000 when he visited the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, which some said had sparked the Arab rioting.

However, even with the Sharon Temple Mount accusation out of the way, the Mitchell Commission report accepted every Palestinian premise for the violence at the time.

The Mitchell Commission accepted as a given that the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO)-led riots were based on a movement for "independence and genuine self-determination," without giving any credence to the PLO goal, stated in all PLO publications, maps and media outlets, even during the current Oslo process, which consistently and clearly states that "liberation" of Palestine, all of Palestine - in stages - remained the goal.

For some reason, the Mitchell Commission characterized the rioters armed with Molotov cocktails as "unarmed Palestinian demonstrators," a term that they apparently borrowed from PLO information reports that were published at the time.

The Mitchell Commission took the position that Israel's security forces did not face a clear and present danger when faced with a mob trying to kill them with rocks and firebombs.

It made no mention that the Palestinian Authority (PA) has amassed 50,000 more weapons than they were supposed to have, in clear violation of the written Oslo accords.

The Mitchell Commission surprisingly accepted the notion that the PA security officials are simply "not in control" of their own tightly controlled security services.

The Mitchell Commission would not consider reliable intelligence reports that documented the PA had planned the uprising. It also failed to relate documentation showing the PA had spent past seven years preparing its media, school system and security services for a violent confrontation with Israel.

Indeed, in late May 2000, a senior official of Israeli intelligence conducted a press briefing where he revealed intelligence information that the PLO was planning riots for late Sept. 2000.

It said the notion the PA leadership had failed to prevent terrorist attacks against Israel as only an Israeli "view," ignoring consistent incitement that Arafat had conveyed to his own media for the previous seven years.

The Mitchell Commission also rejected Israel's characterization of the conflict, as "armed conflict short of war"; (How else would you describe an army that fires mortar rounds into Israeli cities?)

The Mitchell Commission also condemned the Israel Defense Force's killing of PLO combat officers during a time of war, without giving an alternative.

Instead of issuing a clear call to the PLO to stop sniper attacks on Israel's roads and highways, the Mitchell Commission simply "condemned the positioning of gunmen within or near civilian dwellings," leaving the observer to assume that PLO attacks from empty embankments would be acceptable.

The Mitchell Commission suggested that "the IDF should consider withdrawing to positions held before Sept. 28, 2000, ... to reduce the number of friction points," ignoring the fact that this would leave entry points to many Israeli cities without appropriate protection during a time of war.

The Mitchell Commission also demanded that Israel should transfer to the PA all tax revenues owed, and permit Palestinians who had been employed in Israel to return to their jobs, strangely recommending that Israel once again pay salaries of armed PLO personnel who were at war with Israel.

Meanwhile, the Mitchell Commission took a page out of Arab propaganda when it called on Israeli "security forces and settlers to refrain from the destruction of homes and roads, as well as trees and other agricultural property in Palestinian areas," and would not relate to the possibility that some of the trees and agricultural land had been razed may have been provided cover to PA security forces during combat.

The Mitchell Commission also accepted the notion that "settlers and settlements in their midst" remains a cause of the Palestinian uprising, because these Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria violate "the spirit of the Oslo process," even though not one word appears in the actual Oslo accords would require the dismemberment of a single Israeli settlement.

In conclusion, the Mitchell Commission drew a strange comparison between "settlement activities" and the Palestinian inability to resume negotiations, so long as "settlement activities" continue, providing an excuse for the PLO to continue its armed conflict.

In short, the Mitchell Commission Report drove a nail into the coffin of any credibility that George Mitchell could ever have to serve as a potential Middle East envoy.

Originally Published on January 23, 2009 by The Bulletin.

David Bedein can be reached at


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