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Bush's Holy Land nudge
President Bush left Israel after a visit aimed at nudging along peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, said Israel's Haaretz, and his remaining year in office offers a chance for peace that "must not be missed." Don't be fooled by all
W
hat happened
President Bush left Israel Friday after a three-day visit aimed at moving along fresh peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Bush offered a blueprint for establishing a Palestinian state, told Israel to end the occupation of Palestinian territory, and said he would return to help hammer out an agreement before he leaves office next year. (The Jerusalem Post)

What the commentators said
The “opportunity” created by bringing Bush together with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas “must not be missed,” said Israel’s Haaretz in an editorial. Bush “clearly understands his critical, irreplaceable role in advancing the peace process.” That makes his remaining year in the White House “the right time” to try rescuing the “two-state solution.”

Many Israeli commentators ridiculed this visit, said Uri Dromi in The Miami Herald, but they should be “grateful” to have such a staunch ally in the White House. Now it’s up to both Israel and Palestinian leadership to “go back to the arduous task of making peace between our peoples. When we're ready, we should call the Americans to join the ceremony.”

Don’t be fooled by the “backslaps and bilateral affinity” between Bush and his “fawning Israeli host,” said Barbara Opall in the New York Post (free registration). “Worrisome fault lines” have begun to appear in the “traditionally rock-solid U.S.-Israel alliance.” With “gaping gaps” between the positions of Bush and Olmert on Palestinian statehood, Israeli settlements, and other crucial matters, “Bush's first presidential trip to the Holy Land will be remembered not for a Palestinian peace deal, but for launching Israel into a new realm of diplomatic and military self-reliance.”

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