Even US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was busy with the Turkey-Armenia reconciliation agreement, found the time to telephone Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.
Mitchell will return to Israel following his meetings with Cairo. State Department Spokesman Ian Kelly said the US envoy would meet Sunday with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Mitchell and Netanyahu also met Friday.
The American envoy is determined to present US President Barack Obama with a positive report, including a timeframe and a possible date for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Sources in Jerusalem believe Mitchell wants the Egyptians, who serve as a key player in the region, to pressure Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to launch direct negotiations as soon as possible.
Pressuring Abbas (Archive photo: AFP)
Mitchell's meeting with Netanyahu on Friday and with the prime minister's associates on Saturday evening did not lead to extra optimism in Jerusalem. Israelis estimate that the main difficulties stem from the Palestinian president's deteriorating status after deferring the Goldstone Report.
Abbas is now presenting a tough stance in his talks with the Americans, claiming that there is no point in hastily entering negotiations, which will lead to no outcome. Netanyahu understands that he must relax his demands from the Palestinian leader. As far as he is concerned, "We can meet with Abbas as early as tomorrow morning."
"Now all that is left is to convince the Palestinians, through President Mubarak as well, that they must start talking directly. This matter should be included in the report Secretary of State Clinton will be submitting to the president within a week."