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Not surprising at all!

Robert Novak is a both on TV in the USA as a political commentator and anchorman as well as writing op-ed pieces for the Washington Post. It is the one and same Robert Novak referred to in relation to the "outing"of Valerie Plane.

Given the propensity for high-profile commentators to steer clear of anything smacking of even remote criticism of Israel, Novak's column in the Washington Post is therefore interesting and in some respects stating the obvious:

"An overriding melancholy here this Holy Week follows Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's mission to Jerusalem last week. To Arabs and Jews seeking meaningful peace negotiations, it confirmed that no progress toward a two-state solution is likely for the remainder of George W. Bush's presidency.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected Rice's offer to participate in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for a permanent peace treaty. The word in the Olmert government is that the prime minister's reluctance even to begin talks at this time is fully shared by Bush. Rice is sincere in her desire for peace, but she can accomplish nothing important without the full support of her chief.

The aphorism (originated by Israeli statesman Abba Eban) that Arabs "never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity" now can be applied to Israel. Last week's Riyadh declaration indicated the willingness of the Arab world to consider a peaceful solution. Now, belief here among peace-seekers is that nothing will happen until a new president enters the Oval Office in 2009."

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