When US President Barack Obama appointed former senator George Mitchell as his Middle East envoy on January 22, 2009, just two days after his inauguration, he told him to hop on a plane immediately and start talking to the Israelis and Palestinians.

“We have no time to lose,” Obama said when he announced the appointment at the State Department. “It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as Israel and its Arab neighbors.”

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