New US Envoy George Mitchell will be arriving in the Middle East by Wednesday, but Israeli President Shimon Peres sees no reason for the Israeli government to be concerned.
“These are mere overtures by the new US administration in order to learn more about the situation,” Peres insisted, saying that Mitchell would not be pressuring Israel on policy or introducing any sort of new US policies for the Obama Administration.
Other officials had speculated the Obama Administration would pressure Israel on the illegal outposts in the West Bank, something the Bush Administration repeatedly attempted (unsuccessfully) to do. With the new president seemingly as reluctant as the last one to criticize Israel on broader policies, like the 22-day war in the Gaza Strip, it seems there is little cause for concern in the Israeli government.
But when Mitchell arrives the emphasis is likely to be placed on shoring up the still fragile ceasefire between Israel and Hamas. This effort is likely to be considerably hampered by the fact that while Mitchell intends to meet with Israeli officials and Fatah President Abbas, he will not be meeting with any Hamas officials during the visit.