Jerusalem - US President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East arrived in Israel Thursday, in another bid to revive suspended peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians.
Senator George Mitchell opened his latest visit to the region by attending a memorial service at Jerusalem's Mount Herzl graveyard for late Israeli premier Yitzhak Rabin.
The service marks 14 years according to the Hebrew calendar since Rabin was shot dead at a Tel Aviv rally by an extremist Jew opposed to the 1993 Oslo interim peace accords he signed with late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.
Mitchell was scheduled to meet Defence Minister Ehud Barak later Thursday and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday. In the region until Monday, he is also to hold talks with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
Israeli and Palestinian media have reported that the mediator arrived early to prepare a visit of US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, which would be her first to Israel and the West Bank since the Netanyahu government took office in March.
Clinton is expected to land in Tel Aviv Saturday night, but a US embassy spokesman could not yet confirm her visit.
The latest US mediation bid comes as the Obama administration has as yet failed to bring the sides close enough together to enable a revival of the Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations, broken off in late 2008 as Israel headed into new elections.
President Barack Obama had hoped to announce the long-awaited revival of talks at a three-way summit in New York last month.
In the absence of an agreement on the terms of resuming those talks, he instead had to make do with announcing another intense effort to reach a compromise that would enable their relaunch. Clinton had to report back to Obama on the results of those intense preparatory talks last week, with no apparent breakthrough.
The main bone of content is the issue of ongoing construction in Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.
While Netanyahu continues to demand a revival of talks without pre-conditions, Abbas says he will not sit down with the new Israeli government unless it accepts a total settlement freeze. Abbas also wants the talks to pick up from where they were left off under the previous government of centrist former premier Ehud Olmert. (dpa)
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