US Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney on Saturday criticized the timing of the Bush Administration-hosted peace summit about to begin in Annapolis, Maryland, pointing out that the Palestinians have clearly not proven themselves to be viable peace partners.
"I do not believe that this is a time when my expectations would suggest a major peace breakthrough," Romney said in a brief interview with The Jerusalem Post. "The Palestinians have not put in place the security institutions or the governmental institutions which were the doorway to the Road Map" peace plan produced by the Bush Administration amid much fanfare several years ago.
Romney pointed out that even if current Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas is sincere about making true and lasting peace, he already does not exercise control over a large portion of the Palestinian population, and could lose what power he has left if Hamas launches a coup in the West Bank.
Nearly all of the leading Republican presidential candidates have distanced themselves from the current Middle East peace push headed by President George W. Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Like Romney, candidates Rudy Giuliani and Senator John McCain have drawn a parallel between Bush's desperate efforts and the ill-advised last-ditch peace talks that consumed the final months of former President Bill Clinton's second term.