Elliott Abrams, one of the most influential officials of the George W. Bush Administration on Arab-Israeli matters (from his position as Deputy National Security Adviser), sets forth his views in an extraordinary interview in the Jerusalem Post. Here's a sample, in which he expresses doubt that the Israelis and Palestinians were ever very close to a final status agreement:

"Others said that the solution here, the eventual deal, was pretty well understood on both sides - that there weren't a million possibilities for where the border between Israel and the Palestinian state would be. The same with regard to Jerusalem. Therefore, they said, it won't take all that much negotiating to get there. That was the conventional wisdom. But it seemed to me that the opposite view was right: that if everybody knows what a deal has to look like, and year after year and decade after decade, it is not possible to reach it, isn't it obvious that it's because neither side wants that deal? Now, the reasons for not wanting it can vary, and they can also change over time, but it does seem to me that if everybody knows what the options are, and the most Israel can offer is less than the least the Palestinians can accept, the solution is not close at hand.

Furthermore, no agreement would be implemented immediately. It would be a so-called shelf agreement. This was obvious in the road map, which was a step-by-step plan. From the Israeli point of view, this seemed to me to be problematic, because once a deal were to be signed, there would be a lot of international pressure to implement it, even if the Palestinians weren't really ready - even if, for example, they had not defeated terrorism, as the road map requires, and dismantled all terrorist organizations.

From the Palestinian point of view, it was also problematic. They would need to make a number of compromises. They would not be getting what the Arab plan calls for, which is a return to the pre-June 1967 situation. And what would they get in exchange? Not a Palestinian state. Only an Israeli promise that some years down the road, when they have fulfilled all the conditions of the road map, would they get a state. Well, what Palestinian leader is going to be able to make all those compromises up front, in exchange for an Israeli promise? It did not seem to me then - and it does not seem to me now - that we're on the verge of a final-status agreement."

In another venue, Abrams expressed doubt that Obama would continue Bush's demcoratization agenda, though he would not be able to ignore it. He concede that the Bush team erred in pressing for Palestinian elections in 2006, assisting the rise of Hamas.