President Obama didn’t wait long to tackle one of the most intractable items in his in box: the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On a whirlwind Thursday, Obama spoke to leaders in the region (minus Hamas), called for an end to the Gaza blockade and appointed George Mitchell, the man who brokered a truce in Northern Ireland, as Mideast envoy.

Mitchell said he learned from his “700 days of failure and one day of success” in Ireland not to get discouraged. “Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings,” he said. “They can be ended by human beings.”

Baseball fans know Mitchell, the former Senate majority leader, for his investigation of steroids in the sport.

AP via Google:

In taking the Mideast envoy post, Mitchell, 75, will return to a role he pursued during President Bill Clinton’s presidency after his tenure as Senate majority leader from 1989 to 1995. The former senior senator from Maine, Mitchell took on several difficult diplomatic assignments, including chairing peace talks on Northern Ireland.

Mitchell also led an international commission to investigate violence in the Middle East. His report, issued in spring 2001, after Clinton had left office, called for a freeze on Israeli settlements on the West Bank and a Palestinian crackdown on terrorism.

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