US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has arrived in Jerusalem to hold talks with Israeli PM Ehud Olmert.
It is Ms Rice's first visit to the region since Hamas seized Gaza
She will also travel to the West Bank to meet Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and Fatah leader.
It is Ms Rice's first visit since the Hamas faction defeated Fatah to seize control of the Gaza Strip in June.
Ms Rice arrived from Saudi Arabia, where the Saudi foreign minister backed US plans for peace talks this year, saying the Saudis would like to attend.
Ms Rice has also visited Egypt during her tour, which aims to allay Arab fears of chaos in the region in the event of a US withdrawal from Iraq.
She is due to meet Israel's leaders on Wednesday afternoon, including Mr Olmert and President Shimon Peres.
Since Hamas took control of Gaza, the US and Arab League have sought to isolate the group by offering strong support for Mr Abbas's Fatah-led emergency government.
Israel has released Palestinian prisoners and transferred millions of dollars in frozen tax receipts to the Palestinian Authority as goodwill gestures to bolster Mr Abbas.
It is not clear if Israel is yet ready to discuss major issues like borders, settlements, the future of Jerusalem and the right of return for Palestinian refugees, says the BBC's Bethany Bell in Jerusalem.
Ms Rice was in Saudi Arabia with US Defence Secretary Robert Gates, after they had met Arab leaders in Egypt to discuss Iraq.
MIDDLE EAST TOUR
Wednesday: meeting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, President Shimon Peres and other senior ministers
Wednesday-Thursday: talks with President Mahmoud Abbas
The meeting, at Sharm el-Sheikh, took place against a backdrop of controversy over a huge US arms deal for allies in the region.
The $63bn (£31bn) weapons package was criticised by a German foreign ministry official, as well as Iran, Syria and Hamas.
Israel will receive the lion's share of the military aid - a $30bn package over 10 years, representing a 25% increase from present levels.
Egypt will receive $13bn, while Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman and UAE are expected to share $20bn.