At the most recent meeting of representatives of the so-called Middle East Quartet last Wednesday in Brussels, the European Union and Russia proposed asking Israel to reopen the Orient House, the former Palestine Liberation Organization and Palestinian Authority headquarters in East Jerusalem. They also suggested reopening other Palestinian institutions in the eastern half of the city, in an attempt to convince the Palestinians to return to the negotiating table.

U.S. Middle East envoy George Mitchell will arrive in the region this week. He is expected to visit Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Israel and the Palestinian Authority. It also appears he will make stops in Jordan and Egypt. His main message will be the need to apply pressure, especially from the Arab states, on the Palestinian Authority to resume negotiations with Israel. At last week's meeting of the Quartet, Mitchell told the delegates there was no prospect of Israel agreeing to a complete halt in construction in East Jerusalem, which the Palestinians have been demanding. At that point in the meeting, the reopening of Orient House - which Israel closed in 2001 - was suggested as a way of restarting peace talks.