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Clinton Arrives in Israel To Meet With Israeli, Palestinian Leaders

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed in Israel Monday for a 36-hour visit, during which she will meet with senior Israeli and Palestinian officials.

Arriving in Israel after attending a donors’ summit in Egypt, where world nations pledged donations to help rebuild the Gaza Strip, Clinton was expected to meet with senior Israeli officials on the humanitarian situation in Gaza and the formulation of a cease-fire agreement with Hamas.

This is Clinton’s first trip to Israel in her new capacity as secretary of state, and is characterized as a familiarization trip aimed mainly at listening to the top echelon of Israel’s government. The reason behind the passive nature of the trip is the fact that the new U.S. administration of President Barack Obama has yet to formulate clear policy guidelines regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Clinton is expected to brief Israel’s leadership on her experience at the donors’ summit in Sharm el-Sheikh earlier Monday, during which she met with several Arab leaders, such as Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

The secretary of state is scheduled to meet with President Shimon Peres early Tuesday, after which she will visit the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial in Jerusalem and lay a wreath. At noon, Clinton is scheduled to meet with her Israeli counterpart, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and the two will hold a joint press conference. Clinton is also expected to meet with Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat, who requested the meeting, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

On Tuesday evening, Clinton will dine with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and on Wednesday, she is expected to travel to the West Bank city of Ramallah to meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad.

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