Obama mideast envoy in Israel

Jewish right put Netanyahu at the head of a governing alliance softened only slightly by the inclusion of Barak’s battered Labor Party, beaten into fourth place in the election.

Mitchell did not speak on his arrival Wednesday.

In addition to Netanyahu and Lieberman, he was expected to meet with opposition leader and former Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and President Shimon Peres.

On Friday he is scheduled to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Salam Fayyad in the West Bank. Their government, headed by Abbas’ Fatah movement, is in control only of the West Bank because their rivals in the militant Hamas group seized control of the Gaza Strip in June 2007. Efforts to reconcile those factions have so far failed, adding a serious obstacle to peace efforts.

Speaking to businessmen on Wednesday, Fayyad said Netanyahu’s stated preference for concentrating on Palestinian economic growth for now, while putting statehood talks aside for some point in the future, would not bring peace.

“If there is to be any two-state solution to speak of, the Israeli government must take immediate and bold steps toward ending its colonization and occupation of Palestinian territory,” Fayyad said.

Visiting Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Moratinos said after meeting Palestinian Foreign Minister Riad Malki in Ramallah that the two-state model remains “the only option.”

Moratinos said he too would meet Netanyahu and Lieberman on Thursday, seeking to learn their intentions.

“I want to listen to them,” he told reporters. “The Israeli government is now evaluating its political relationships with the Palestinian government and the international community.”

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