The special American envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, plans to set up an office in Jerusalem and to regularly staff it with diplomats to advance talks between Israel and the Palestinians, according to the Israeli security establishment.
A source in the Defense Minister’s Bureau told the Israeli media:
“We have received unconfirmed reports from some of Mr. George Mitchell’s people that he plans to open an office in Jerusalem. This is of great political significance. He is signaling [to] us by doing so that he will not be dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict from afar. Keeping an office in Jerusalem is indicative of the Palestinian orientation it will have.”
If Mr. Mitchell locates his office in Jerusalem, he will be joining former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, who now serves as the Quartet envoy to the Middle East, who also established his office in Jerusalem and presently holds his meetings there to advance the process in the region.
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Another Israeli security source said the U.S. government has been exerting diplomatic pressure with regard to the type of Israeli government it wants to see in power.
“One should add this to recent meetings with the Syrians and a letter from Hamas to the American president, to get a picture of what kind of era we are entering,” the source said. “The Americans will gladly believe the stories the Palestinian sell them and only after a couple of years will they understand what they got into. Meanwhile we’ll need to eat dirt.”
David Bedein can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org