after adopting a hands off approach for most of its two terms, the bush administration's sudden push for a resolution of the israeli-palestinian solution is really quite remarkable. why the interest in a negotiated settlement when there has been so little interest before?
it reminds me of the clinton administration's push at the end of its second term. clinton had been much more hands on throughout his presidency, but he clearly started pushing harder at the end, just as bush is pushing harder now.
and that reminded me of the madrid peace conference, which took place at roughly the same point in bush sr's last term as the annapolis conference is in jr's.
so i wonder: has the israeli-palestinian issue become the vanity project for departing presidents? how did it get that way? given how difficult and intractable the issue is, it's a strange one to pick. after all the chances of anything resembling a success are really really low. next week's annapolis conference (assuming it happens at all) is just to discuss whether to open discussions about the actual issues. it's not really a peace conference as much as a meta-peace conference--a conference about holding a conference. and it's unlikely even that will be accomplished.
of all the vanity projects to pick, why this issue? it really makes no sense.