US won’t stand idle if Israeli-Palestinian violence erupts

Mitchell: Reason for involvement because "it is in the strategic national interest of the US that the conflict be resolved.”

December 26, 2010 01:54
2 minute read.
Mitchell worried

Mitchell worried 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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The United States plans to remain engaged with Israelis and Palestinians even if violence broke out between the parties, US special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell told a Maine radio station on Thursday.

“If there were a breakdown – including, God forbid, an eruption of violence – there is no way that the US would stand aside and let them take the consequences,” Mitchell told the Main Public Broadcasting Network.

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He was responding to a question about a column Thomas L. Friedman wrote for The New York Times earlier this month in which he suggested that the US should cease its involvement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

“You [the US] can’t want peace more than the parties themselves, and that is exactly where America is today. The people running Israel and Palestine have other priorities.

It is time we left them alone to pursue them – and to live with the consequences,” Friedman said.

Mitchell told the radio station that the US was not “not likely” to take Friedman up on his suggestion.

“The demands by the parties, by other countries in the region, indeed by the entire world for US action to try to deal with the consequences of that would be high, and appropriately so,” Mitchell said.

“I think that any president would not simply stand by and let a conflict erupt, because it would not be in our interest.

One of the reasons we are involved there is because it is in the strategic national interest of the US that the conflict be resolved,” he said.

“I share the frustration that he expresses, although I do not share all the characterizations of the parties. I do think that we have to stay involved. Our interest is at stake,” Mitchell said.

“A principal point is that an eruption of violence, or some other negative act, could occur at any time, with unforeseeable consequences. It is not predictable that A and B will happen if we just step aside,” he said.

In that same interview, Mitchell also spoke out against the WikiLeaks cables and warned that international leaders would likely be less candid with the US in the future now that thousands of cables detailing the confidential opinions of those leaders had been released.

“I do condemn the disclosures. I think they are harmful to our international interests and to our diplomacy,” Mitchell said.

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