As 2008 draws to a close, the Middle East and the
Israeli-Palestinian conflict are entering a major period of
transition. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has resigned, and
elections have been called for February 10, 2009. On the
Palestinian side, President Mahmoud Abbas' (Abu Mazen) term is
becoming a controversial issue following Hamas' claim that it ends
on January 9. It is unclear whether the Arab efforts led by Egypt
to hammer out an agreement between Hamas and Fateh before that date
will succeed, or whether matters will get more complicated,
deepening the rift between the two parties and the separation
between Gaza and the West Bank.
The Annapolis process, which began in November 2007, is also
nearing its target date of the end of December 2008, without having
produced the hoped-for agreement.
There is a general perception that, after 15 years of negotiations
since the Oslo Accords were signed in 1993, Israelis and
Palestinians are not capable of arriving at an
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