"The meeting will focus on the means and ways of ending the Israeli siege on Gaza and stopping Israeli attacks on West Bank cities."

Barak said last week that the two would be meeting to discuss "the situation on the ground, about security co-ordination".  

Virtual standstill

High-level discussions between Israel and Palestinian leaders have been at a virtual standstill since Israel's 22-day war on the Gaza Strip in December 2008-January 2009, which left more than 1,000 Palestinians dead.

in depth

  Video:
  Israel expands settlements
  Israelis protest freeze
  Map of East Jerusalem housing plan
  Focus:
  Comments: US-Israel relations
  Jerusalem's religious heart
  Strain on US-Israel ties
  Q&A: Jewish settlements
  Riz Khan:
  Middle East peace process
  Battle over settlements
  Inside Story:
  US and Israel poles apart
  Programmes:
  Israel: Rise of the right
  Holy Land Grab

Recent negotiations between the two sides have been through so-called indirect talks, mediated by the US, but Netanyahu insists direct talks are necessary in order to move forward.

Speaking at an Israeli cabinet meeting on Sunday, he said "the time has come" for Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, "to meet with us, because there is no other way to advance peace".

"I hope this will be one of the results of the visit to Washington," he said.

Netanyahu is due to meet Barack Obama, the US president, in Washington on Tuesday.

Al Jazeera's Nisreen El-Shamayleh, reporting from Jerusalem, said the meeting would be very important to the Israeli leader.

"Netanyahu is hoping that his meeting with Obama is going to go very well," she said.

"He is also hoping that Obama is going to come up with a way to try to engage the Palestinians and convince them to go into direct talks with the Israelis."

The issues topping the agenda are expected to be what moves Israel has taken to ease its three-year-old blockade of Gaza, as a well as a report on the initial findings of an investigation into a Israeli raid on an aid flotilla bound for Gaza that left nine protesters dead.