I know that many (most?) readers of TNR do not incline warmly to friendly
words spoken or written about George Bush.  And it doesn't especially
matter from whom the words come.

But since Ha'aretz is the prime voice of the peace camp in Israel perhaps
it will mean something to those who were impatient with Bush for not
enmeshing himself in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process earlier.  This
has certainly been the trope of virtually all of the Democratic candidates
who want to be his successor.  As it happens, Ha'aretz thinks that "until
recently he did not have the appropriate partners for an effort to reach a
permanent arrangement."

That is, according to Ha'aretz, he took the first opportunity he had.  This
is a serious judgement from a serious place, as the newspaper's editors go
on to argue in "Not a lost year" in Friday's paper.

I happen to think that this initiative will turn out to be another mishap,
if not a terrible calamity.  But it won't be because of Bush's failure of
will. It is because the Palestinians are still a phantom partner.

Who have phantom fixed demands. For example, the right of return.  And, in
any case, they will not be able to insure the calm on the ground which is
indispensable for any Israeli withdrawal.