JERUSALEM, May 6 (Reuters) - US Middle East envoy George
Mitchell met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on
Thursday for the second time in two days before the expected
start of indirect Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.
The United States hopes the two sides will embark on
negotiations in an indirect format in the coming days, a US
spokesman said on Wednesday, after the first, three-hour meeting
between Netanyahu and Mitchell.
Neither side commented on the details of Thursday's meeting.
An Israeli political source, speaking on condition of
anonymity, said the start of indirect proximity talks had not
been announced as expected on Wednesday because Palestinian
President Mahmoud Abbas had yet to formally agree to join them.
Mitchell will meet Abbas on Friday and Saturday, US
The Arab League approved Abbas' participation in the talks
last Saturday, and he is awaiting formal approval from the Palestine Liberation Organisation's Executive Committee this
Saturday, said his spokesman, Nabil Abu Rdainah.
If the executive approves these indirect negotiations, all
the final-status issues will be on the table for discussion,
Rdainah said. Absolutely no issue will be excluded and Jerusalem will be the top priority.
Israeli leaders have said the Palestinians can raise core
issues in the indirect talks but only direct negotiations can
resolve them. The indirect format for talks would involve
Mitchell shuttling between the two negotiating teams.
Washington opted for this method after failing to narrow
differences over Israeli settlement activity enough to resume
face-to-face talks, which the sides have not held in 18 months.
The period without peace talks has included Israel's Gaza offensive
, election of a right-wing Israeli government and
entrenched rule in the Gaza Strip
Islamists opposed to
the US peace efforts.