The European Union’s (EU) foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini will visit the Middle East next week for talks on the peace process with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, Brussels said Friday.
Her visit on Wednesday and Thursday, which comes just days after Netanyahu started a new term as Israeli premier, will be "to discuss the bilateral relations as well as prospects for the Middle East Peace Process," her office said, according to the AFP news agency.
The former Italian foreign minister will also meet a number of other Israeli and Palestinian officials, the statement from her office said without giving further details or the exact venue of the talks.
Mogherini took over as foreign policy chief for the 28-nation European Union in November and visited Israel and the PA shortly afterwards, saying she wanted to make a priority of pushing forward the Middle East peace process.
In January, she called for a “fresh look” at the moribund peace talks, saying that she was concerned “about the fact that a process that has gone on for so long, if we just restart the process and that's it, it might not be enough.”
Her upcoming visit comes at a time when pressure is being applied on Israel and the PA to resume the peace process.
On Thursday, U.S. President Barack Obama said he believes Israel's long-term security is best served by reaching a “two-state solution”.
"I continue to believe a two-state solution is absolutely vital for not only peace between Israelis and Palestinians, but for the long-term security of Israel as a democratic and Jewish state," Obama told a press conference at Camp David.
"I know that a government has been formed that contains some folks who don't necessarily believe in that premise, but that continues to be my premise," he added.
During the recent election campaign in Israel, Netanyahu angered several Western leaders when he declared in a series of interviews he would do everything in his power to prevent the establishment of a Palestinian state.
He appeared to backtrack after the election, explaining in an interview that he wants “a sustainable, peaceful two-state solution" but adding that his earlier comments were a reflection of changing conditions on the Palestinian side, pointing to Abbas’s pact to form a unity government with Hamas.
The White House, however, was not impressed with Netanyahu’s backtracking. Obama’s chief of staff, in fact, dismissed the comments and bluntly warned Israel that its "occupation of Palestinian land" must end.
Obama’s spokesman also declared that since Netanyahu had said he was no longer committed to the two-state solution, “that means we need to reevaluate our position in this matter, and that is what we will do moving forward."
(Arutz Sheva’s North American desk is keeping you updated until the start of Shabbat in New York. The time posted automatically on all Arutz Sheva articles, however, is Israeli time.)