Rice: Deal unlikely in Bush term

Israel’s political turmoil has limited the prospects of a deal with the Palestinians before President Bush’s term ends, Condoleezza Rice said.

"It’s clear that the – that we’re in a different situation now because of — Israel is going to elections," the U.S. secretary of state said Thursday on her way to Israel, acknowledging that Bush’s hopes of a peace deal before he leaves office in January are unrealistic.

Rice also said that prospects of a peace deal would be better had Tzipi Livni, the foreign minister who now leads the Kadima Party in the wake of Ehud Olmert’s resignation as prime minister, succeeded in forming a coalition and becoming prime minister.

"And had we — had the Israeli Foreign Minister, Tzipi Livni, formed a coalition, and given that she was the chief negotiator, I think that would have meant certain things for the process in terms of perhaps even being able to move toward conclusion that probably now are very difficult," Rice said.

Livni will face Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, among others, in a Feb. 10 general election.

Rice said she nonetheless would devote herself to the process until her last day in office.

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