Israeli envoys set to return to DC

Israeli envoys set to re

Israeli envoys negotiating with the US over a settlement freeze and restarting peace talks are set to arrive in Washington in coming days to continue discussions with the Obama administration. The unexpected decision to return so soon to the US is seen as a sign of movement towards an agreement after rounds of meetings have failed to produce a deal. The sides have noted progress on a formula for a time-limited settlement freeze with some provisions for continuing current construction, as well as determining the parameters of Palestinian-Israeli negotiations. Prime Minister's Office adviser Yitzhak Molcho and Defense Ministry chief of staff Michael Herzog spent three days in town this past week, stretching their stay from an originally planned 24 hours and meeting several times with US Middle East envoy George Mitchell. Before their anticipated return, Mitchell will meet separately with Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat on Tuesday, though it's possible that both the Israeli and Palestinian teams would meet together if an agreement seems imminent. The US has also indicated that the report on the situation US President Barack Obama requested of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton would come following those discussions, though her assessment could take longer to formulate. US Ambassador to the UN Susan Rice will travel to Israel on Monday, to represent the Obama administration and deliver remarks to this week's "Facing Tomorrow" conference hosted by President Shimon Peres. "Rice's remarks will focus on our common vision of a better future that is possible with resolve and collective action," her office said. Rice will also hold bilateral discussions with leaders of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, it added.