U.S. President Barack Obama's Middle East envoy began mediating a new round of indirect peace talks between Palestine and Israel on Tuesday.
George Mitchell will shuttle between the West Bank and Tel Aviv for the first substantive sessions since the Palestinians agreed to the indirect "proximity" talks.
Though neither side is hopeful for a breakthrough, both seem to be taking trust-building steps.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week his government "is prepared to do things that are not simple, that are difficult".
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas broke with tradition on Monday by failing to give a speech on the day that Palestinians mourn the creation of Israel, which they call the "nakba", an Arabic word for catastrophe.
The Palestinian refugees say that in the summer of 1948, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled their homes after armed Jewish guerrillas stormed their villages and forced them to leave after hundreds of other Palestinian fellows were slaughtered.
Palestinians demand the right for the 4.6 million descendants of those who fled in 1948 to return to their lands that are now inside Israel.
Analysts said he wanted to avoid an occasion in which he would be expected to condemn Israel in strong language.
Mitchell will meet Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak in Tel Aviv later in the day, Barak's office said. He will then shuttle to Ramallah to meet Abbas on Wednesday. He is expected to meet with Netanyahu on Thursday.
Direct peace talks were suspended in late 2008 when Israel launched a massive offensive in Gaza, killing more than 1434 Palestinians, a third of them children, and wounded at least 5300.
ReutersLast Mod: 19 Mayıs 2010, 08:29