In the last six years Middle East peace has been a low priority for this Administration. In fact even Bill Clinton did not pay serious attention to it until the last few weeks of his Presidency and he ran out of time. Had he started six months earlier, he may well have been successful.
The question now is what is President Bush going to do in his last two years of Presidency? The Iraq war is likely to be over before the end of 2008 and from where things stand today, historians will not paint a pretty picture of this adventure. President Bush can leave a legacy that will be remembered for years to come. He can do that by making a major push for Middle East peace.
The peace plan presented by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia is a reasonable one. Israelis scoffed at it initially but after the Lebanon debacle they are showing willingness to consider it. In the words of an Israeli Minister "it is a starting point". If this plan can be implemented, doors of all Muslim countries will open up to Israel for trade and diplomacy. Also the forever vilification of U.S. will come to an end.
The plan calls for Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and East Jerusalem and two states of equal status side by side living in peace with no further claims on each other's territory. Those Palestinians who have claims to return to Israel can be be housed in the settlements Israel vacates in the West Bank.
This requires a bigger sacrifice from Israel as they took over these territories in the 1967 Six Day War started rather stupidly by President Nasser of Egypt and other Arab states with an intent to push Israel into the sea, but resulted in them losing this territory. What Israel would get in the bargain is a chance for peaceful co-existence with neighbouring states and an end to this non-ending war.
President Bush should seek the help of his father as this is way beyond Condi Rice and other Administration officials. Bush Sr. is well respected in the Middle East and has close personal relations with the Saudi King. A peace dialogue can be hosted in Saudi Arabia or Jordan and must also include Hamas which is a legitimately elected Palestinian Government. If the U.S. is not comfortable talking to Hamas let Saudis do that. History shows us that peace is never achieved by excluding extremists as moderates alone cannot not sell a plan to the majority. Remember Menachem Begun, he was declared a terrorist once and went on to become Prime Minister of Israel and made peace with Egypt & Jordan and U.S. had no qualms about talking to him!
Enough human blood has been shed over the last 60 years. Too much despair is in the air and the world owes this region peace so that States and people opt for human and economic development rather than latest methods of killing.
President Bush has the time, the opportunity and a chance to leave an ever lasting legacy. If he can accomplish this, Iraq war will not even show up on history's radar screen.