The "parties" are the Israelis and the Palestinians. Hmm, and just what is the status of the Israeli-Palestinian peace talks?
What might be one of the reasons that negotiations aren't going anywhere? Well,
This appears to be a real theme in how the Bush Administration deals with those who are outside their inner circle. CBS News asked in August 2005: "Should President Bush take an hour out of his vacation to sit down for a chat with Cindy Sheehan?" Bush somehow couldn't make any room in his tremendously busy summer vacation schedule to tell Ms Sheehan just what the glorious cause was that her son, US Army Specialist Casey Sheehan, died for. CBS got in some snark: "[Bush] ... found time to go mountain biking and went to one of the regional Little League playoff games." Bush's stated reason as to why he wouldn't see her was
In other words, it's a privilege for citizens to have an audience with their president and the president gets to pick and choose who gets to receive that privilege.
As with the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, if the administration considers merely talking to be a reward that they are free to grant or withold, then it shoudn't be terribly surprising when serious negotiations never really get off the ground.
As with First Lady Laura Bush and the Myanmar/Burma junta and Cyclone Nargis, the Bush Administration doesn't seem to have any real clue (3rd letter) as to how to conduct negotiations. Fortunately, Laura Bush appears to have backed down a bit on her earlier heavy-handed efforts to get US aid into that country.
From yesterday's interview with Voice of America:
Q. "Now, there's some who have said that there should be no criticism of the Burmese regime in the context of trying to get aid there. Should -- in the course of the aid relief efforts, should it just be sort of hands off and no criticism of the regime at all?"
Bush: "Well, you know, if that would make the regime accept aid -- and I'm sure that that's the point -- but the regime knows that many, many countries have been critical, that many leaders of many countries have already been critical, long before this disaster.
"I think it's just important now to focus on the needs of these people who have been -- whose lives have been destroyed by the cyclone and try to get as much aid as possible there. But I think we can't lose sight of the real long-term goals for Burma, and that is a free Burma and a democracy that can be a part of the world."
The Bush Administration appears to have very serious problems conducting diplomacy. The possible reasons could fill up a good-sized book, but the feeling on their part that merely communicating with both inconveniently petitioning citizens and various "bad guys" appears to reward them seems to be a really large part of it.