George Bush has completed a Middle East visit but it’s unclear if it did much to advance the US President’s hopes of achieving a deal on Palestinian statehood before he leaves office.
The final leg of the trip, in Egypt, involved talks with his host President Hosni Mubarak and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. After praising Israel during a speech marking its 60th anniversary Bush sought to reassure Abbas over his impartiality in the peace process.
Many analysts have expressed scepticism that an agreement on a Palestinian state can be achieved before Bush’s term ends in January.
The cause isn’t helped by the weakness of the two main players. Abbas rules only in the West Bank after Hamas drove his Fatah faction out of Gaza. And Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert is coming under increasing pressure over corruption allegations.