Last updated on: 6/25/2008 11:33:00 AM PST

What Was the Mitchell Report and How Was It Related to the al-Aqsa Intifada?

General Reference (not clearly pro or con)
Dennis Ross, Chief Peace Negotiator under presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, in his book The Missing Peace: The Inside Story of the Fight for Middle East Peace, wrote:

"Former Senator George Mitchell headed an international commission that assessed the causes of the [al-Aqsa] Intifada and made a series of recommendations for transforming the situation. The findings were privately conveyed to the administration on April 30, 2001, and released to the public on May 21. They specified steps that both Palestinians and Israelis needed to take: the Palestinians on security, including specific action against the groups and the infrastructure responsible for terror; and Israelis on restoring normal life to Palestinians, including the removal of barriers to Palestinian movement of people and goods and a freeze on settlement activity.

While hardly enthusiastic, neither Sharon nor Arafat wanted to be seen as opposing the Mitchell Report. That created an opening for creative diplomacy. At that moment, either the Secretary of State or a senior envoy should have gone to the area and shuttled back and forth between Israelis and Palestinians until there was an agreement on very precise and tangible steps for implementing the Mitchell recommendations (or some agreed-upon variation of them) on the ground. Or, if agreement was not possible, the administration's senior official should have remained on the scene until such time as to be able to credibly declare which leader was not, in fact, prepared to accept what was required for implementation.

Of course, to do either required an administration that was prepared not only to roll up its sleeves and conduct the hard work of diplomacy, but also to clearly invest itself in a way that conveyed seriousness to Israelis and Palestinians alike. That went too much against the Bush administration's initial assumptions, and led Secretary Powell to say that 'shuttle diplomacy is not what we need right now.' Unfortunately, that posture -- and the low-visibility U.S. involvement -- sent the Israelis and Palestinians the signal that the United States was not serious about the Mitchell Report, and that therefore they need not worry about the consequences of not acting on it. And, of course, they did not."

2004 - Dennis Ross, PhD 

The CNN (Cable News Network), in a May 21, 2001 article titled "The Mitchell Committee Report," stated:

"The Mitchell Committee, led by former U.S. Sen. George Mitchell, was established after an October 2000 summit at the Egyptian resort of Sharm el-Sheikh. At the time, the clashes between Israel and the Palestinians had just begun.

The commission's report, delivered after another seven months of strife and more than 500 deaths, included:
  • A call for an immediate cease-fire, a renunciation of terrorism and a resumption of peace talks. 'The cycle of violence action and reaction must be broken,' commissioners concluded.
  • Rebuilding confidence and restoring trust between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 'Given the high level of hostility and mistrust, the timing and sequence of these steps are obviously crucial. This can be decided only by the parties,' the report said.
  • A resumption of talks between Israeli and Palestinian security officials.
  • A freeze on construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank and Gaza, which Israel has controlled since 1967.
  • A call for Israel to lift economic restraints on Palestinian areas. 'We acknowledge the (Israeli) position that actions of this nature have been taken for security reasons,' commissioners stated. 'Nevertheless, the economic effects will persist for years.'
  • Calls for the Palestinian Authority to prevent Palestinian attacks on Israelis, and for Israel to limit its use lethal force against Palestinians. In particular, commissioners urged Palestinian officials to make a '100 percent' commitment to reducing terrorism -- including arresting terrorists operating in its jurisdiction."

May 21, 2001 - CNN (Cable News Network)