Archive for Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Bush arrives today in Mideast

January 9, 2008

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— When President Bush arrives here today on the first leg of a Middle East tour, he will encounter a political landscape that has changed little in the weeks since Israeli and Palestinian leaders pledged at a Middle East peace conference to revive negotiations.

The international gathering hosted by Bush at Annapolis, Md., in November, was supposed to jump-start intensive talks between the Israelis and Palestinians with the objective of reaching an agreement by the end of this year.

Instead, both sides have slipped back into familiar patterns of behavior that have bogged down early efforts to revive the long-dormant negotiations. There is little faith among ordinary Israelis and Palestinians that a breakthrough is possible, even with a push from the American president.

"Things haven't moved very much, and the question is why anyone expected that they would," said Mark Heller, director of research at The Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University.

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