By Adrian Hamilton
The Independent | Published: November 29, 2007
There can have been few more excruciating sights than President Bush parading the Israeli and Palestinian leaders before the cameras at the Annapolis summit on Tuesday, clasping their hands, squeezing their shoulders, pushing them together for a handshake and then leaving them to return to their seats like awkward boys summoned to the podium to be congratulated for their efforts at a school prizegiving.
But then that was only right for the occasion. Why were President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert there in the first place, if not because the White House had propelled them there with not an iota of prior agreement between them? And why did their joint statement of intent single out the end of 2008 as the time by which they hoped to reach a peace settlement? Because that is when President Bush will be leaving office.