This has prompted the White House to dial back expectations:
"I think a lot of people are inclined to try to treat this as a big peace conference. It's not," Tony Snow, the White House's press secretary, told reporters.
He added the conference would not address final status issues, such as borders, further lowering expectations. Israel had put Washington on notice earlier yesterday that it was not prepared to discuss such issues as borders at the conference.
"We have been very clear that we are not willing to discuss at this stage the three core issue of borders, refugees and Jerusalem," Miri Eisen, a spokeswoman for the Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, told reporters.
In Damascus, Syria's president, Bashar Assad, initially dismissed the idea of a conference as rhetoric. But he later proposed a number of conditions for Syria's participation, which were similar to those in operation during talks between Israel and Syria in the 1990s.
Look, why should anyone in the Middle East take this summit idea seriously? Bush is the self-described “War President.” He likes his wars, and diplomacy is not in his vocabulary. I’d no more buy President Bush talking about a “peace conference” than I believe Ted Haggard when he says he’s cured of “teh gay.”
Bush is not pro-peace and everyone knows it. The only way a peace summit will work is if someone else convenes it. Instead, he has left the task to Condoleezza Rice, who has alienated everyone in the Middle East with her inane ramblings last year about ”birth pangs.”
With Republican Senators telling Bush he ”fucked up the war,” I think it’s pretty obvious that this “peace summit” is really just a legacy-building exercise. Now, why would anyone in the Middle East care about that?
Right now everything Bush touches turns to shit. He should just sit at home and watch TV until January ‘08, and try to minimize the damage.