Israel experts: Israel-Arab not tied to Iraq

Israeli experts on Wednesday cast doubt on a central thesis of the Baker-Hamilton commission report about US policy in Iraq - that a concerted effort to resolve the Israel-Arab conflict would improve the situation in Iraq. The Israeli government refused to comment on the report. An official said it did not represent a new policy, while experts said the "Israel-Palestine first" approach has been tried before by then-Secretary of State James Baker - and failed. There was also no immediate comment from Palestinian officials or experts. The report of the bipartisan commission examining US involvement in Iraq and recommending future steps includes a declaration that the US "cannot achieve its goals in the Middle East unless it deals directly with the Arab-Israel conflict." The report prescribes direct talks between Israel and its neighbors - Syria, Lebanon and Palestinians, "those who accept Israel's right to exist."