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Momentum builds for Mideast peace summit

But Israelis, Palestinians have no blueprint yet for talks to begin Tuesday.

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Israeli and Palestinian leaders are pedaling toward peace with an energy that has not been this palpable in more than seven years, when talks at Camp David broke off and sparked a torrent of violence.

On Tuesday, Egypt's president, Hosni Mubarak, gave his support for a peace summit scheduled for next Tuesday in Annapolis, Md., after he met with Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt. On Friday, Arab League delegates meet to develop a unified front ahead of the talks.

In a large part, the two sides are being nudged to the table by international cajoling – from the White House to Arab states to the ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

For the optimistic, the apparent seriousness of all parties infuses a hint of often-absent confidence that Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking has a real chance.

But for those less positive about Israelis and Palestinians reaching a viable solution, this might be too heavy a load to carry in too short a time. And as such, many here wonder whether, even with a heavy-handed pull from Washington and the rest of the international community, the penchant for backpedaling on peace moves will inevitably disappoint.

"I look forward to [the conference] leading to the launching of serious peace negotiations which deal with all final status issues in a defined time frame and according to an agreed follow-up mechanism," Mr. Mubarak said Tuesday.

Israeli and Palestinian negotiators have been meeting at a quickened clip in recent weeks in effort to reach an agreed-on document that they can present to the parties at Annapolis, based at least in part on the Bush administration's "road map" to peace of several years ago.


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