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Mitchell lands in Israel, rival Palestinian factions talk in Cairo

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Baz Ratner/Reuters

(Read caption) US envoy George Mitchell met with Israel's Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, who is poised to become the country's next prime minister.

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JERUSALEM – Special Envoy George Mitchell touched down here Thursday for the second time since he was entrusted by President Obama last month with the daunting task of bringing Israelis and Palestinians back to long-scuttled peace talks.

But the veteran negotiator arrives at a time when both peoples seem most absorbed with fixing their own houses before turning in earnest toward dealing with their neighbors.

Rival Palestinian factions Hamas and Fatah were meeting in Cairo Thursday, having relaunched a reconciliation dialogue that some hope will lead to a national unity government. In Israel, Likud party leader Benjamin Netanyahu is in the process of trying to form a coalition government, and was still vacillating between two options, either of which could have a major impact on Israel's outlook in the peace process that Mr. Mitchell will oversee.

(Read more about Mr. Netanyahu's progress here.)

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