According to CNN,
In 2000, Mitchell served on a commission that examined the escalating violence between Israelis and Palestinians.
In 2001, he wrote a report that that called for a halt to Israeli settlements and greater Palestinian efforts to crack down on terror. The "Mitchell Report" was praised for its impartiality and became the basis of a so-called road map for later peace initiatives.
In accepting the appointment, Mitchell declared he was confident the Middle East conflict could be solved:[Mitchell] was the fourth of five children born to an Irish father and a Lebanesemother.
"Conflicts are created, conducted and sustained by human beings - they can be ended by human beings. I saw it happen in Northern Ireland,"
Obama also declared his intent to increase humanitarian and financial assistance to Gaza while pursuing increased security along the Gaza-Egypt border, in coordination with the Egyptian government.
For their part, Hamas [unsurprisingly] delcared that President Obama's was off to an "unfortunate start ... in the region and the Middle East issue. And ... the next four years, if it continues with the same tone, will be a total failure."
Other foreign policy initiatives undertaken by the new President today included the ordered closure of Guantanamo Bay, as well as all CIA-operated prisons on foreign soil, an executive order banning "harsh interrogation measures" (a.k.a., torture), and the appointment of veteran diplomat Richard Holbrooke as special envoy to Pakistan and Afghanistan.