Of course any peace conference is a good thing but as the Annapolis meeting between long term foes kicks off tomorrow, my expectations for any kind of settlement is very low.
The fact that it comes at the end of the Bush time in office stinks of a last gasp attempt at a decent legacy, much the same way that it came at the end of Clinton's presidency.
If the US, and lets be frank, it is only the US who can reign in Israel, was resolved to end the decades of conflict between the two it would be better served dedicating more time than a hurried assembly of antagonists less than a year before the chairman vacates the seat.
There has already been some uncomfortable squirming about the declaration of principles for peace before the event even starts so i hold out very little hope of any consensus when the thornier issues reach the table.
The principal victims of any failure will be the impoverished Palestinians. The onus is always entirely on them to conjure up sweeping reforms that must be achieved while in the grip of a military occupation, behind a heavily fortified wall encroaching deep into their land and while subjected to the abject loss of their freedoms.
What we must bring out of this conference, whether it is deemed a success or a failure, is the momentum to try again and to keep going until a solution is reached. We have had far too many false dawns only for it to collapse into further killing and recriminations.
With Palestine divided between Hamas and Fatah, it will be difficult to demand that Mahmoud Abbas crack down on the rockets being fired into Israel by the people he is in the midst of fighting a civil war against but if Israel can make the movement towards ending the occupation and ensuring a state of Palestine free from Israeli checkpoints and incursions it will strengthen his hand considerably when dealing with his own dissidents.
If this fails we cannot give up trying because since the Clinton meetings imploded into infatida seven years ago, over 4000 Palestinians and 1000 Israelis have lost their lives in fighting and we cannot allow a repeat of such tragedy.