Godspeed, George Mitchell

In case you haven't kept up on developments, a cease-fire agreement was made and broken since we wrote about the situation in Gaza (our earlier posts: point ; counterpoint ). From the BBC :"Israel and Hamas declared separate ceasefires on 17 and 18 January, ending an Israeli offensive in which nearly 1,300 Palestinians and 10 Israeli soldiers were killed. Three Israeli civilians were killed by rocket fire from Gaza in the same period."But the break was short lived. An "explosive device" went off in Israel today, killing one soldier. Hamas probably did it but denied responsibility; Israel has launched new air strikes on Gaza , and moved in with tanks and bulldozers again. Sigh. If you're predisposed to despair about human nature and question our ability to solve hard problems without violence, this conflict is all the evidence you need.But America's running on hope these days, and we're exporting it in the form of George Mitchell , Obama's special envoy to the Middle East. He just arrived in Egypt to begin a tour of meetings with the principals. Mitchell has a reputation for absolute evenhandedness (something not everyone's happy about ), an unshakable determination, and played a role in resolving the Northern Ireland conflict. Let's wish him luck.