The Palestinians and the Israelis can broker peace before George Bush leaves office in January 2009, Mahmoud Abbas said today in a press conference with Condoleezza Rice. The Palestinian president parroted a statement last night by Israeli PM Ehud Olmert. Putting the leaders on the same page is an achievement in itself, says the Washington Post, but both are politically weak.
Rice said she was confident that “the will is there” to end the conflict, but despite sunny rhetoric, the sides are still far apart. Abbas hedged, saying “negotiations are difficult and will remain difficult,” and Rice has scaled down her ambitions for the upcoming Annapolis conference. But Olmert promised an end to the “foot-dragging which previously characterized our discussions.”