Stanley's blog

The recent visit of George W Bush to the Middle East confirms the bankruptcy of the current US policy in the region.

In Jerusalem, the president stated, “I believe that an Israeli-Palestine peace treaty will be signed during my presidency.” Was this mere rhetoric, does he believe it, or is it an expression of faith?

This was Bush’s first visit to Israel – in the last year of his presidency. Annapolis was his first serious interest in the quest for peace. It required intensive arm-twisting to ensure sufficient international representation. Despite the statements emanating from the Administration, all that was achieved was an agreement by some Palestinians and some Israelis to negotitate. In the six weeks between Annapolis and the Jerusalem visit, no progress was made.

President Bush met separately Ehud Olmert and Mahmoud Abbas. The atmosphere on both occasions was cordial but they each merely repeated their previous, well-known positions. The only lasting impression of the visit was of parts of the city under siege and huge disruptions to daily life with traffic chaos, caused by intensive security measures (8 000 additional police and security officers brought into the capital), a presidential cavalcade of 45 vehicles, and a supporting cast from the US of 1 000 (from telecommunications experts to chefs).

One wonders how much the visit to the Middle East was influenced by a desire to kick-start the peace process and how much to build a coalition against Iran. The prospects for peace between two parties, neither of which can agree among themselves and with two weak leaders at the helm, are grim.

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