Mitchell Netanyahu 311.
(photo credit: GPO)
US envoy George Mitchell has relayed to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu an invitation from US President Barack Obama to meet at the White House on Tuesday evening.
Mitchell delivered the invitation at the start of his meeting with Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Sunday afternoon. It comes amid tension between the US and Israel over recently announced plans to build 1,600 housing units in Ramat Shlomo, a haredi neighborhood near Shuafat. US Vice President Joe Biden, who paid a visit to the region last week, expressed fierce criticism of the Israeli move that coincided with his peacemaking efforts.
Netanyahu is set to leave for Washington on Sunday evening, following his meeting with Mitchell.Related: Healing the rift Resolve Israel spat quietly, Obama urged
Prior to his meeting with the prime minister, Mitchell met with Defense Minister Ehud Barak at the capital’s King David Hotel. During the meeting, the two held what Mitchell termed “a productive discussion on a full range of issues.”
Mitchell stressed that the US was committed to Israel’s security and
that the two countries shared a common goal, “the resumption of
negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, in an environment in
which they can result in an agreement that ends the conflict.” He
expressed hope that all permanent-status issues would be resolved.
Barak and Mitchell both said proximity talks must begin as soon as
possible, agreeing that the mediated talks would inevitably lead to
Barak praised Mitchell for his dedication in the face of recent
diplomatic clashes between the Israeli government and the Obama
administration, stressing the necessity of “direct, in-depth talks
concerning an agreement that is essential to all countries in the
region.”Herb Keinon contributed to this report.