JERUSALEM — Sarah Palin, darling of the US Republican right, is to arrive in Israel at the weekend for a "private visit" during which she will meet Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu, media reports said on Thursday.


A spokesman for the Israeli premier could not immediately confirm a report in the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper that the former Alaska governor was due to arrive on Sunday with her husband Todd for a two-day visit.

The ultra-conservative politician, who was the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee in 2008, is expected to arrive late on Sunday and to meet Netanyahu on Tuesday morning before leaving for the Far East later that day, the paper said.

During the trip, which Israeli parliamentary sources told the paper was "a private visit," Palin is to visit Jerusalem's Old City as well as Christian sites in northern Israel.

The aim of the trip is to become acquainted with Israel ahead of an official visit she is planning in the coming months, Yediot said.

The controversial former governor has emerged as a powerful force in US conservative politics, and speculation is mounting that she will announce a bid to run for the Republicans in the 2012 presidential race.