| U.S., get serious
Mixed signals and obscure plans don't
help end Mideast violence.
has shown that baby steps do not lead to peace in the Middle
East. They get blown away too easily by those who don't
want to reach the right destination: coexisting Israeli
and Palestinian states.
terrorist organization Hamas, which claimed responsibility
for a suicide bombing this week that killed 15 Israelis,
is such a saboteur of peace.
truisms emerge from this latest round of ruin. Strategies
based on incremental confidence-building measures need to
be replaced by an endgame proposal to ensure Palestinians
a homeland and Israelis a secure, Jewish state. The United
States must lead the sides toward that endgame, unambiguously
President Bush's Middle East efforts have been mired in
divisions within his administration that have produced hapless
Bush's hawkish advisers believe he should back Israeli Prime
Minister Ariel Sharon's military attacks against the terrorist
infrastructure. Secretary of State Colin Powell is pushing
Bush only makes the confusion worse. One minute he urges
Mr. Sharon to withdraw from the West Bank. The next, he
says he won't tell his "friend the prime minister what to
do or how to handle his business."
Bush was right to step into the Middle East conflict. Not
only does the situation hold Israelis and Palestinians hostage
to bloody instability, it is an unavoidable obstacle to
the U.S. war on terrorism.
the President needs to provide a clearer timetable for achieving
a Palestinian state willing to live next to a secure, safe
Israel. America has to intervene, because neither Yasir
Arafat nor Mr. Sharon can look beyond distrust and hatred.
An American plan, however, will have zero chance unless
it shows the Israeli and Palestinian publics a plausible
path back to hope.
plan will require new ways of pressuring Mr. Arafat, whose
long record of lies and double-dealing has made him such
an unreliable partner. The need to rebuild and finance a
Palestinian government and security force shattered by the
Israeli military incursion gives the United States and Europe
an opening: They could tie aid to insistence on a more tightly
controlled Palestinian security operation that fights, not
Western pressure won't work, nor will moderate Arab leaders
join the squeeze-Arafat movement, unless Palestinians believe
they can get a workable state through negotiations. America
must strongly urge Mr. Sharon to return to serious talks.
meantime, the administration should press the Israeli leader
to freeze settlement construction in the West Bank. This
is a destructive policy; it convinces Palestinians that
Israel has no intention of leaving.
plan must focus on Israeli security and Palestinian sovereignty.
It must insist on the hard truth that neither goal can be
achieved in any stable way without the other. Anything less
dooms both sides to an endless cycle of violence.