George Mitchell
George MitchellIsrael News Photo

U.S. President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East will come to Israel on Wednesday for talks on strengthening the Gaza ceasefire and reviving Mideast negotiations, an Israeli foreign ministry official said Saturday.

The official said George J. Mitchell would meet with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and senior Israeli officials.

According to the Associated Press, Mitchell will also visit Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and PA Prime Minister Salam Fayyad at their headquarters in Ramallah, an Israeli official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Washington has not officially announced the trip.

The official said that Mitchell would discuss restarting Israel-PA talks after Israel's counterterror operation in Gaza, and ways to impose an effective arms blockade against Hamas which rules Gaza.

In Washington, the White House and State Department declined to comment, but diplomats familiar with Mitchell's travel plans said he would visit Israel and the PA with possible stops in Egypt and Jordan. Mitchell's Middle East tour, undertaken as Israeli elections near, could last eight to 10 days.

'We are not a U.S. colony'

Experience teaches us that Binyamin Netanyahu will not be able to withstand the pressure exerted upon him by the Obama administration, National Union leader Ya'akov “Ketzaleh” Katz warned Saturday night. “Unless Bibi is strengthened from the nationalist camp, he will fall into the arms of the Left again,” he added.

Ketzaleh said that Obama needed to be reminded that Israel is not an American colony or the 51st state. “I think it is great arrogance and even chutzpah on the part of the U.S. administration that it does not respect the Israeli public,” he said in an interview. “Although Olmert is ending his role, the administration is trying to 'close' things that it could not close over the past years. We hope that the Prime Minister and his ministers will explain to him that he should go home,” he added.

Yesha Council head Danny Dayan said Saturday evening that Mitchell's appointment is a “disturbing” one. He cited a report prepared by Mitchell during President Bill Clinton's term, in which he called for an end to all settlement activity “including natural growth.”

"Soon we will have to ask Obama for permission to have babies,” he told Ynet.