U.S. envoy George Mitchell has reassured Israeli leaders that their relationship
with the United States remains strong despite differences over the Middle East
Mitchell met Tuesday with Prime Minister Benjamin
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Speaking in Jerusalem
(after talks with Israeli President Shimon Peres), Mitchell said Israel
and the Palestinians must both stick to the terms of the so-called "road map" to
peace. That agreement, reached in 2003, calls for the establishment of a
separate Palestinian state.
He also assured Mr. Netanyahu that the United
States' commitment to Israel's security is "unshakable."
leader plans to make a major policy speech Sunday outlining his views on peace
and security. He has refused to accept U.S. calls for Israel to stop
construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank.
Mitchell will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas before continuing on
to Lebanon and Syria.
U.S. President Barack
Obama spoke with Mr. Netanyahu by phone Monday. The White House released a
statement saying Mr. Obama reiterated to Mr. Netanyahu the principal elements of
his Cairo speech, including his commitment to Israel's security.
week, President Obama called for a separate Palestinian state alongside Israel
and a halt to Israeli settlement construction in occupied territory.
Netanyahu has said building in existing settlements will continue to accommodate
what he calls the natural growth of resident families.