President Obama’s Middle East envoy has begun another attempt to persuade Israel to stop building settlements on occupied West Bank land.
The former senator George Mitchell is meeting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose opposition to a freeze is well-known. But the Israeli leader says he welcomes the opportunity to talk over the issue which is crucial to restarting peace talks. “We extend our hands to the United States and to the Palestinians in the quest for advancing peace, prosperity and security in our region, so I welcome you George and I look forward to our discussions,” he said as the pair met. Resisting U.S. pressure and angering the Palestinians, Netanyahu has said he would be prepared to limit temporarily the scope of construction to help to revive peace talks suspended since December, but he wants projects under way to continue. Mitchell is also due to meet with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.