US envoy George Mitchell has begun a new swing through the Mideast as the White House tries to push Israel to halt settlement construction in the West Bank.
Mitchell met on Tuesday with Israel's defense minister, who helps oversee settlement policy. Mitchell also is to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later on Tuesday.
Netanyahu has refused to accept US calls to support the creation of a Palestinian state and freeze settlement construction. That has led to the most public disagreement between Israel and the US in a decade.
Netanyahu is set to deliver a major policy speech on Sunday. Netanyahu's office says the Israeli leader spoke to President Barack Obama on Monday, and that Obama said he is looking forward to Sunday's speech.