Mitchell back in Israel

April 22, 2010 at 5:57 PM
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JERUSALEM, April 22 (UPI) -- U.S. Special Envoy George Mitchell landed in Israel Thursday, reportedly for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.

Arutz Sheva reported Mitchell would confer with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. However, no official statement had been issued regarding the nature of the meetings, the Israeli media network said, calling Mitchell's visit a surprise.

Voice of America reported Mitchell was commencing a new peace mission with hopes of reviving talks, which have been at stalemate for 15 months, between the two sides. However, the U.S. network provided no details regarding Mitchell's goals during this trip.

Mitchell is expected to remain in Israel until Sunday, Arutz Sheva said.

Mitchell's trip comes on the heels of one by Dan Shapiro, the Obama administration's senior Middle East director at the National Security Council. Arutz Sheva said it was believed progress had been made between Israel and the PA during that trip.

Israel's continued construction in contested areas remains a major block to renewed negotiations.

VOA reported there has been U.S. pressure on Israel to consider measures such as releasing Palestinian prisoners, removing roadblocks and ceding more West Bank territory to Palestinian security control in an effort to get Palestinians to resume talks aimed at achieving a two-state solution.

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