State Department officials are putting on a brave face in the wake of Ehud Olmert's resignation announcement, saying that the departure of Israel's PM will not forestall a peace agreement. But as the New York Times reports, most Middle East observers believe that Olmert's move signals the end of the Bush efforts to broker a deal. One analyst said simply, "It's over."
Condoleezza Rice had tried to use Olmert's weakened position as a bargaining chip, thinking that the embattled PM would push for peace in order to shore up his own political career. Now that's he's leaving, any agreement will likely be cosmetic at best. As one Mideast expert said of Olmert, "Can he sell it, let alone implement it, in an environment in which he has no popular support or moral authority, with Hamas threatening from the sidelines? No way."