Poll: Israelis skeptical Bush visit can advance peace talks

Israelis were overwhelmingly pessimistic that President George W. Bush's visit to Israel and the West Bank would move peace negotiations with Palestinians forward, according to polls released Thursday. Bush arrived in Israel on Wednesday for a three-day visit meant to promote peace talks renewed at an international conference he convened in Annapolis, Maryland, in late November. He traveled to the West Bank on Thursday for talks with Palestinian leaders. Bush's goal is to forge an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of his term in January 2009. But 77 percent of Israelis said they thought he would not succeed, according to a Dahaf Research Institute poll of 500 Israelis published in the Yediot Ahronot newspaper. In a separate poll of 519 people by the Maagar Mohot institute, broadcast Thursday on Israel Radio, 50 percent of those surveyed said the Bush visit would not advance peace talks, while 36 percent said it would.