Mideast peace process, a hard nut for weak Bush

Updated: 2008-01-09 23:18

JERUSALEM -- Amid strict security measures and welcomed by almost all Israeli political bigwigs, US President George W. Bush arrived at Israel's Ben-Gurion international airport on Wednesday to start his first official visit to its close-allied Jewish state in a hope to push forward the newly revived peace process of the Middle East region.

However, none of the conflicting two sides in the region seems to be easily pushed even though the impetus is from the president of the most powerful state in the world.


If a visit by a US president could solve even a tiny problem between Israel and the Palestinians, it would for sure be heartily welcomed. However, the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is too complicated to be resolved in one action, such as a visit like this.

Some local experts have warned that people should not expect too much from Bush's visit to the region.

No real innovations will result from Bush's visit, said Dr. Michael Oren, a historian and expert on US-Israel relations.

"There is limit of what Americans can do to advance the peace process," said Dr. Oren, adding that "At the end of the day, it will not make much of a difference to the Israelis, Palestinians" or to others.

Mark Heller, a senior analyst at the Institute for National Security Studies of Tel Aviv University, deems Bush's visit is a political signal rather than a tangible effort.  

"Bush wants to send a signal that he is seriously committed to the peace process," said Mark Heller, stressing that, though so, the visit will not have long-lasting impact on the reality.

The analyst does not believe at all that Bush will engage himself in any detailed mediation during his visit, say nothing of the close-ranks between the Israelis and the Palestinians just because of his visit.

Although Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev has said that building momentum for the newly revived peace process and encouraging broader Arab-Israeli reconciliation were among Bush's primary goals for his Mideast tour, he fell short of elaboration about how the so-called momentum could be materialized.

So it is no wonder that the hearty smiles, courtesy speeches and long-time handshakes from his dear Jewish friends upon his arrival could hardly gloss over the skepticisms and doubts looming Bush's trip to Israel and around the region.


Indeed, while Bush is a lame duck in his second term without major political accomplishments in the Middle East, Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas are considered alike as being too weak to deliver a peace agreement.

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