Clinton expected to focus on Gaza during upcoming trip here

Clinton to arrive Monday evening, after attending an international donors conference in Cairo focusing on reconstruction of Gaza.

clinton serious 248 88 ap (photo credit: AP [file])
clinton serious 248 88 ap
(photo credit: AP [file])
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to concentrate on the Gaza Strip, and not new ideas for the diplomatic process, during her first visit to Israel next week, US officials said Tuesday. Clinton is scheduled to arrive on Monday evening, after attending an international donors conference in Cairo that day focusing on the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, according to the officials. The US would likely donate more than $900 million for the reconstruction of Gaza, AP quoted a US official as saying on Tuesday. US officials told The Jerusalem Post that while they could not confirm that figure, the numbers being discussed were "very big." The officials said that much of Clinton's discussion with Israeli officials during her two-day stay in Israel, which will include meetings in Ramallah, would be on ways to get the aid into Gaza so it does not fall into the wrong hands. "There will obviously be a discussion of what happened at the conference in Egypt, and how to work with Israel to ensure the assistance gets to the right people in the right way," the US officials said. The officials said they did not expect Clinton to come with any specific proposals or new ideas on the diplomatic process, adding, "There is no Israeli government yet, and no one to make proposals to." Likewise, the officials dismissed as "overblown" speculation that Clinton was going to use her first visit to come down hard on Israel on the settlement issue. Clinton is expected to meet in Jerusalem with President Shimon Peres, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. She is also scheduled to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salaam Fayad in Ramallah. Clinton will be preceded in Israel by four days by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, who will be making his second visit on Thursday since assuming his new position in January. He will meet Clinton in Egypt for the Gaza conference, and then return with her to Israel. Mitchell is expected to set up a small office here, employing a couple of people and relying for support services on the US Embassy in Tel Aviv, and the consulate in Jerusalem.