Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Talking About Talking

Israel's Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has held talks with the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. For the first time, they met in the West Bank, and Mr Olmert said he wanted negotiations on a Palestinian state to resume soon.

That's fine and dandy, but there's absolutely no reason to get excited about this at all. In the slightest. Scarcely in the modern history of the Middle East can two leaders in weaker positions have held such a meeting. Mr Olmert's under pressure from just about everybody at home, over issues such as how last summer's war with Hizbollah came about, and even the treatment of holocaust victims. Mr Abbas has to meet people in the West Bank these days, because he can't go to Gaza since Hamas routed his Fatah party in a bloody but brief civil war. It's clear both men don't have a great deal of sway over their people right now.

When two leaders in the Middle East, or indeed anywhere, hold some talks to say they're going to hold some more talks, it's not exactly Earth-shattering news at the best of times. When those two leaders are Messrs Olmert and Abbas, it's fair to say the talking's not going to turn into anything more substantial anytime soon.

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