heart-rending Middle East violence during the past week
has no single or simple solution. But Egypt demonstrated
one essential element Sunday. Its mediators sat down with
Palestinian militants to persuade them to halt the kind
of suicide attacks that — along with Israeli reprisals
— have left at least 60 dead.
Egyptian gesture is hardly going to do the trick alone,
of course. But it is a timely example for other Arab leaders
of the type of acts that could begin choking off extremism.
It also shows how the moderate Arab states of Saudi Arabia,
Jordan and Bahrain can make good on their June 3 pledge
along with Egypt to crack down on terrorism and the financing
of Palestinian terrorist groups such as Hamas.
by Egypt and follow-up by its fellow Arab states can begin
the real strangulation of Hamas and other extremist organizations
determined to undermine an Israeli-Palestinian peace dialogue.
As in the U.S. war on al-Qaeda, these terrorist groups and
the source of their funds need to be identified and rooted
out. President Bush, who had persuaded the four Arab states
to wage an anti-terror campaign, underlined the point Sunday,
saying Hamas and similar organizations must be dealt with
a tall order, particularly since the Arab leaders who renounced
terrorism risk a backlash among their populations, which
fervently back the Palestinian cause. And the most hard-core
state sponsors of Palestinian extremism, most notably Syria,
have remained silent.
Egypt's weekend efforts are encouraging. Middle East peace
negotiators have long identified the active engagement of
Arab countries as a key to any credible settlement. Their
involvement also fits neatly into an emerging Bush administration
foreign-policy approach: to pressure problem countries by
involving neighbors and all available tools, from political
week, the U.S. is intensifying its own diplomatic efforts
to stop the violence. Bush's new regional envoy, John Wolf,
is holding talks with Palestinians and Israelis, and Secretary
of State Colin Powell plans a trip to the Middle East. At
the same time, the United Nations, France and key U.S. senators
are floating the idea of sending international troops to
all of the movement, moderate Arab nations have their own
supporting roles to play — if only they choose to