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Secretary Rice fights peace-process inertia

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"What we heard today from the parties, which is the most important element of this, is that they believe in the Annapolis process," Rice told reporters.

The choice of language, calling it the "Annapolis process," seems an attempt to put a positive spin on a Middle East peace process that has seen very minimal progress in recent years. To some observers, renaming the process for last year's pre-Thanksgiving meeting in Annapolis gives it a more current ring than the Oslo Process – the 1993 Israeli-Palestinian peace accord reached in Norway. And, say some here, its sounds more constructive than mentioning the Bush administration's "road map," which was never successfully implemented.

Rice's last trip

Rice arrived in the region Thursday on what is likely be her last trip to the region to work on an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. She acknowledges that a hoped-for agreement will not be signed before the end of 2008, as promised by President George W. Bush when he was here in May.

But in the half a year since Bush's visit, little has gone as planned. This conflict is now a sort of tug of war in stasis, with very little movement expected until early next year, at the soonest. Following President-elect Barack Obama's inauguration in late January, Israel faces national elections on Feb. 10. Not until then, do observers or key players, expect any progress.

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