Peace in Mideast can be seen by telescope
President Bush visited Israel and Palestine during a nine-day trip to the Middle East.
President Bush is beginning his last year in office with a nine-day, six-nation journey to the Middle East, including his first official visit to Israel, expressing confidence that an Israeli-Palestinian peace treaty will be signed before he leaves the White House. That is wishful thinking, but his trip nevertheless is an important sequel to November's summit in Annapolis, Md.
The president might have been slow to visit Israel in cognizance of Bill Clinton's failure to achieve an accord at Camp David in the final days of his administration. Instead, Bush took office as Israelis and Palestinians engaged in attacks and counterattacks that came close to becoming a full-scale war.
The Annapolis summit was encouraging, as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert agreed to begin negotiations. They pledged to "to usher in a new era of peace, based on freedom, security, justice dignity, respect and mutual recognition, to propagate a culture of peace and nonviolence, to confront terrorism and incitement, whether committed by Palestinians or Israelis."
Standing in the way of that blissful goal are Hamas, the Islamic terrorist group that took over control of the Palestinian territory in 2006 parliamentary elections; the Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas who bombarded Israel with nearly 4,000 rockets in the 2006 war; and Iran, a continuing threat with nuclear ambitions. Those threats need to end before contiguous states of Palestine and Israel -- not "Swiss cheese" states, Bush emphasized -- can exist in peace.
Nothing short of a miracle would reach that goal this year, but negotiations mediated by the United States could create a climate for peaceful stability to be attained after Bush leaves office.
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