Mitchell to Israel Within the Week

By Harry Kimball,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 24, 2009 3:51 PM CST
Palestinians gather around a fire as they burn rubbish in Beit Lahiya, in the northern Gaza Strip.   (AP Photo)
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(Newser) – Newly appointed Middle East special envoy George Mitchell will make his first trip to Israel next week, possibly as early as Wednesday, the Jerusalem Post reports. Mitchell is expected to meet with top Israeli officials and leaders of the Palestinian Authority. The main priority will be ensuring that the current Gaza cease-fire holds. More in-depth initiatives will likely wait until after Israel’s upcoming elections.

Mitchell's trip, still not officially announced, could last up to 10 days and include stops in Jordan, Egypt, and the West Bank, the AP notes. Officials in Israel are eager to meet with Mitchell after their encouraging initial contacts with Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, the Post reports. Obama has pledged “to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians, as well as between Israel and its Arab neighbors.”