Yitzhak Benhorin
April 14, 2009 - 12:00am

Prominent voices from within Benjamin Netanyahu's government have already made it clear they oppose the two-state solution and the understandings agreed upon at the Annapolis Peace Summit.

Ascertaining whether this is indeed the genuine position of the new Israeli government is the top priority for US President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, during his visit this

"It's one thing to hear statements in the press, it's another to hear it in a one-on-one meeting," a source in Washington told Ynet on Monday evening.

The White House sees Mitchell upcoming sojourn to the region as crucial, as it will constitute the first formal discussion of the new government's agenda. Washington has made it clear that while the special envoy will indeed have much to say in his meetings with Israeli leaders, he is mostly coming to hear the positions of both the PM Netanyahu and Foreign Affairs Minister Avigdor Lieberman in person.

The meetings are of notable importance to Jerusalem as well, as Mitchell's reports to President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will greatly influence the formation of the administration's policy regarding Israel.

On Wednesday Mitchell is scheduled to meet with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, and on Thursday the envoy will hold talks with President Shimon Peres, Lieberman, Opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

The visit to the region will be Mitchell's third since he was appointed special Mideast envoy. The two previous trips were held during former PM Ehud Olmert's term.

Meanwhile, it remains unclear whether Netanyahu will attend the American Israel Public Affairs Committee's conference, scheduled for the beginning of May, and it is possible that the PM will visit Washington during the second half of that month.


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