Special US envoy to the Middle East George Mitchell is slated to arrive in Israel on Thursday, Jerusalem officials said.
Mitchell's unannounced arrival was made possible due to progress in talks in a meeting between the American team headed by Dan Shapiro and David Hale – Mitchell's deputy, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's aides on Wednesday, as well as progress in talks between the Americans and associates of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Amman.
Thursday's visit comes as a surprise, as it comes amid a sense of deadlock between the parties, following a Wall Street Journal report that Netanyahu rejected US President Barack Obama's request to freeze construction in east Jerusalem.
The visit also comes following reports that Washington is disappointed with Israel and the Palestinians for their failure to make any progress in the peace process.
Mitchell will be visiting Israel and the Palestinian Authority, in an attempt to advance the launch of proximity talks between Israel and the Palestinians. The special Mideast envoy was meant to visit the region after Passover, by the trip was postponed following disagreements between the parties.
It is estimated that the talks in Jerusalem and Amman created a foundation for the launch of proximity talks, which the Americans have been seeking in recent months.
However, at this point, no official statement has been made as to Mitchell's arrival in Israel or the content of his talks in Jerusalem and Ramallah.