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Mitchell with Livni. Common interests
Photo: AP
Netanyahu holds 'friendly meeting' with Mitchell
Prime minister-designate meets with President Obama's special Mideast envoy. Sources close to Netanyahu say after meeting it appears US does not intend to press Israel on illegal West Bank construction at this point

Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu met Thursday with US President Barack Obama's special Middle East envoy George Mitchell. Following the meeting Netanyahu said that it was held "in a very friendly and practical atmosphere."

 

Sources close to the Likud leader said that Netanyahu was under the impression that Mitchell does not intend to pressure Israel on the issue of illegal outposts. According to the sources, at this point the US did not present any demands to Israel and mainly sought to learn more of Israel's stance on the relevant issues.

 

In 2001, Mitchell published a report on the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank and stressed the need to halt further construction in the area.

 

Netanyahu and Mitchell. No pressure (Photo: AFP)

 

"The subject of the settlements was not brought up," Netanyahu's associates said. "The issues that the government will need to tackle after its establishment are extremely complex and problematic, including the Iranian problem, which concerns both Israel and the US."

 

After his meeting with Mitchell, Netanyahu met with the EU Foreign Policy Chief Javier Solana.

 

The Western envoys met with the right-wing leader in an attempt to find out whether Israel, with Netanyahu at the helm, will remain committed to the Annapolis peace process and the two-state solution, or change course.

 

Although no official statements to this effect have been made so far, both Europe and the US are concerned of the prospects of a narrow right-wing government being formed in Israel.

 

Mitchell's visit was also meant to prepare the groundwork for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's trip to the region next week.

 

Earlier Thursday Mitchell met with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. The two agreed on the need to strengthen the common interests of Israel, the US and the international community, and boost the moderate Arab countries, as well as what Livni defined as "the legitimate Palestinian Authority."

 

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