Desperation. It's the final act in a president's term, typically coming after the Scandal and Spin Act. It especially is part of the two-term president, when by the last year in office, there's nothing to lose.
The setup, as well as the result, is pretty formulaic.
When a president's political capital is spent, when the approval ratings are circling the drain, when staff members are bailing faster than the rich folks on the Titanic, you can count on one policy announcement — "I'm securing peace in Israel and Palestine."
It's like clockwork. With about a year left in office, all but the most powerful and charismatic presidents know their domestic agendas are going nowhere. Their staffs are disintegrating under the rush to be on the next president's bandwagon. And there's nothing that will be lost after the inevitable failure. The basic logic model: "I've failed at most other stuff, so now I'll tackle this problem."
President Clinton took his turn. Now President Bush the Younger is taking his shot. With 14 months left in office, Bush has invited players in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict to resolve their decades-old (some say millenia-old) grievances. No one should be grabbing their head saying: "I never saw this one coming."
It's a worthy goal, to be sure. Hopefully, it works. And Bush would be hailed as a genius for actually getting it done.
In the real world, however, where success is admittedly doubtful, it's nothing more than a political last-ditch effort to secure a legacy that doesn't involve waterboarding. Although, come to think of it, that might be the only way to really get these sides to agree to anything.