Mitchell arrives in Israel to start peace talks

By Jessica Elgot, May 4, 2010
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George Mitchell: The special envoy to the Middle East will mediate peace talks.

George Mitchell: The special envoy to the Middle East will mediate peace talks.

US Special envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell has arrived in Israel ready to start new indirect peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.

Israeli media have reported that the talks are gearing up to start as soon as Wednesday.

But the Palestinian Authority has refused to participate in the talks until it has the backing of the Palestinian Liberation Organisation, which will not meet until Sunday.

Talks, mediated by Mr Mitchell, were agreed last month but the PA cancelled after an Israeli announcement that new homes had been approved in Ramat Shlomo, east Jerusalem.

The cancellation caused a temporary deep rift between Israel and the US.

Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has been in close contact with US President Barack Obama to prepare for the proximity talks.

A White House spokesman said the two men had communicated by telephone and that President Obama had stressed the need for direct talks to happen soon.

    Last updated: 2:59pm, May 4 2010