If you judge George Mitchell on his results, he was a disaster as the United States’ Middle East envoy. If you talk to leaders in the region or former U.S. officials, they will tell you he was so ineffective and disliked by both sides that he was largely out of the picture at key points (e.g., during the time the Obama administration was attempting to induce Israel to extend the settlement freeze).
Now, some may argue that Mitchell really wasn’t running the show. It is very likely from the totality of discussions I have had with those knowledgeable about the “peace process” that the sole driver of Middle East policy is the president. This may well be the case. But in that event, Mitchell was an incompetent errand boy, eventually losing the trust of both sides.
Finally, his often-repeated comparison of the Middle East to North Ireland was entirely inapt. In North Ireland, one party had laid down its arms. The sides did not seek the eradication of each other as the Palestinians have called for the end of the Jewish state (and continue to do so through Hamas).
A former Middle East negotiator put it this way, “Mitchell gave the President two years of bad advice, and has had no role since the White House abandoned his ‘hit the Israelis hard’ approach last Fall. He wanted the President to lay out an American plan in the coming speech, lost that fight, and finally at long last left. There will be no tears in the White House, nor in Jerusalem or Ramallah.” Come to think of it, there hasn’t been.