Obama envoy seeks to quell doubts on Mideast peace

President Barack Obama’s envoy said on the eve of a Middle East peace summit that it was time to take advantage of a “window of opportunity” to end the decades-old conflict as he sought to overcome broad skepticism about the U.S. diplomatic effort.

While acknowledging obstacles that have outlasted many a U.S. leader, George Mitchell, Obama’s troubleshooter for the region, insisted the administration’s bid to achieve an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal within a year was realistic.

“There is a window of opportunity, a moment in time within which there remains the possibility of achieving a two-state solution,” he said.

On the prospects for completing a peace accord in just 12 months’ time, Mitchell said, “We believe that it can be done.”

Many Israelis and Palestinians are deeply pessimistic about the first direct talks in 20 months, and most analysts see little chance of a breakthrough given the level of distrust.

The Obama administration sees progress on the Israeli-Palestinian front as a way to marshal Arab support against Iran’s regional influence and also as a potential boost for the president’s outreach to the Muslim world.