There has been some news coverage about George Mitchell’s new assignment as Middle East special envoy. In particular, his recent trip to the region has been described as a “listening tour”. Unlike efforts to force a solution on parties, efforts to mediate a solution are based on what the parties themselves view as their priorities, their nonnegotiable points, their timetables, etc. In short, the process is all about them — not about what the mediator’s point of view.
So, it’s not surprise that listening by the mediator is essential. How else would a mediator learn just what the conflict is all about — from the parties’ own perspectives?