America’s diplomatic efforts towards Middle East peace have seen President Obama’s new peace envoy meet the Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Senator George Mitchell is on a week long tour of the region – and the Israeli stop has meetings with other top security officials in Jerusalem.
In Tel Aviv, some Israelis urged their government to heed American advice on settlements. The leader of Peace Now, Yariv Oppenheimer, said: “We hope that the Israeli government will understand that building in the settlements is not only hurting Israel, but is also hurting the relationship between Israel and the American government.” The settlers had set up a small demonstration to express their opposition to the establishment of a Palestinian state as part of a two-state solution. But for Senator Mitchell, the task has only just begun. His tour goes next to the West Bank for talks with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, before going on to Jordan, Saudi Arabia, France and Britain. He has no plans for a direct meeting with Hamas.