President Obama's envoy for Middle East peace George Mitchell is meeting with the new Israeli government during his travels to the Middle East beginning this week, and is expected to hear doubts from them as well as Arab diplomats about the prospects of peace in the region.
A high-ranking Arab diplomat told FOX News that certain recent statements from Israeli government officials on the two-state solution, which is the foundation of all recent efforts towards peace in the region, are worrisome.
"We are a little bit concerned," the diplomat said about remarks from incoming Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who has said that Israel is not bound by any agreements reached by the last administration during the 2007 talks in Annapolis, Md., and has dropped the phrase "two-state solution" from his current lexicon. Returning Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu has so far steered clear of explicitly using that language.
Netanyahu also has not yet referred to the Annapolis process but he has made public statements pledging to restart the peace process. An Israeli official told FOX News that during a telephone conversation Sunday with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Netanyahu restated his commitment to getting talks back on track.
Last week, Abbas met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak in Cairo to discuss how to approach the new Israeli government. Mitchell spent Tuesday in Morocco, and is going to Jerusalem on Wednesday and Thursday and will spend Friday in Ramallah in the West Bank. He will then go to Cairo, Riyadh and other Arab capitals.
"In the case of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, we believe that the two-state solution, two states living side by side in peace, is the best and the only way to resolve this conflict, and we will be pursuing that objective in meetings that I will be having in other countries in the region over the next two weeks. And we hope very much that the outcome will be a period of peace and prosperity for all the people of the region," Mitchell said in Morocco.
Mitchell's visit comes ahead of a sequence of high-level visits aimed at redirecting Arab-Israeli talks. The Arab diplomat, who was present during weekend talks in Jordan, told FOX News that the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Qatar and Lebanon and Arab League Secretary General Amr Mousa composed a letter re-stating the Arab position on the peace process.
The diplomat said the letter will reiterate the Arab League's commitment to the principles established at the Annapolis conference in 2007 and that the League's peace plan, which offers pan-Arab recognition and complete normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for land of pre-1967 borders, is still on the table.
The Jordanian king will hand deliver the letter to President Obama when he visits Washington on April 21, the first Arab head of state to do so. Netanyahu is expected to visit Washington in mid-May and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has invited the Israeli leader for talks at Sharm El-Sheik in June, an Israeli diplomat said.
The weekend meeting of Arab leaders was a follow-on to an Arab League summit in Doha, Qatar, on March 30, in which the overall message was a warning that the plan was not on the table indefinitely.
"It is not there forever," the diplomat said, "but there is no set time frame."
The diplomat said Obama and King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia agreed at the G20 "on the urgency of starting peace talks as soon as possible."
In his recent speech to the Turkish Parliament, Obama stated that believed that Middle East peace was possible and that progress attained during the Annapolis process must continue.
The Annapolis agreement specified that a follow-up summit would take place in Moscow. Although no date has been set for that, the summit is still expected to take place.
Mitchell will seek to reassure his Arab interlocutors -- particularly Saudi Arabia and Egypt -- that the Obama administration wants key elements of the Arab plan to be part of the process and will try to ascertain how Netanyahu intends to approach the peace process.