United Nations peacekeepers are maintaining a fragile peace in south Lebanon after last summer's devastating 34-day war between Hezbollah and Israel. Elsewhere in the Middle East, the climate of confrontation makes prospects for peace appear grim. In the region's longest-running conflict, Israel and the Palestinians remain locked in disagreement over creation of a permanent homeland for the Palestinians, and armed skirmishes between rival Palestinian parties are complicating efforts to restart peace negotiations with Israel. In addition, the Bush administration is leading an international boycott of one of those parties — Hamas — for its refusal to recognize Israel and renounce violence. In Lebanon, many fear the truce between Israel and the Hezbollah militia won't last. Hezbollah's main patron, Iran, is defying American and European efforts to ensure that its nuclear-power development is limited to peaceful purposes. And in Iraq, U.S. forces remain bogged down after more than three years of fighting.