George Bush, like Bill Clinton before him, is making a last-minute push to broker Arab-Israeli peace, but with much steeper odds, says Reuters' Arshad Mohammed. Bush, Mahmoud Abbas, and Ehud Olmert are all unpopular, especially compared to their 2000 counterparts—Clinton, Yasser Arafat, and Ehud Barak. “When Clinton tried both sides actually felt they could do it,” said an Arab diplomat. Now, neither does.
Bush has long neglected the conflict, critics say, but he does have the advantage of starting talks eight months earlier than Clinton. He’s also made overtures to other major Arab states, hoping their attendance could help Abbas. What if, in spite of everything, Bush succeeds? “It would be a welcome irony,” said a Clinton aid.