What happened
President Bush said Israeli and Palestinian leaders would have to make “difficult compromises” to make progress at the Annapolis Conference, a Middle East peace summit Tuesday that will include representatives from Saudi Arabia, Syria, and other Arab countries. (The Washington Times)

What the commentators said
Bush took a “dramatic, positive step” by bringing the two sides to the table, said the Seattle Post-Intelligencer in an editorial. “No one knows how it will end, but the opening of Middle East talks is a moment of great hope.”

Critics have called the Annapolis summit a “photo op,” said Steven Lee Myers in The New York Times (free registration). “That, however, does not necessarily mean that it will be a failed photo op.” An international conference on the Arab-Israeli conflict—and this is the first one since 1991—could mark a turning point, but the “real measure” of success “will be what happens afterward.”

Everyone knows Israel has to end the occupation of Palestinian land, said Richard Cohen in The Washington Post (free registration). It’s obvious that “the Palestinians must forswear terrorism.” The solution is “so logical,” but the trouble is the two sides see “reality” so differently they have never been able to just “talk to each other.”

The summit “may or may not move the Israeli-Arab conflict closer to resolution (my money is on ‘may not’),” said Zev Chafets in the Los Angeles Times (free registration). The agreement of leaders from countries big and small to participate in his “bash” was “an unmistakable acknowledgment that America remains the world's indispensable state.”

The Bush administration will pay a price, said Bret Stephens in The Wall Street Journal. Syria will expect the U.S. to back off as a reward for its participation, “so “look out for more aggressive Syrian misbehavior in Lebanon, including the continued arming of Hezbollah.”

This "farce" marks the end of the Bush doctrine, said Andrew C. McCarthy in National Review Online. By inviting “the thug Assad regime in Syria,” Bush has buried “the blunt marker” he “once put down to signal a do-or-die choice for jihadist nations. Are you with us, he asked, or with the terrorists?”

“Short of intolerable carnage,” said Ralph Peters in the New York Post (free registration), “there's no durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. None. The best all parties can hope for is an occasional time-out.”