Last Chance

"Enough is enough." Thus, President George W. Bush summed up his current thinking on the carnage between Israelis and Palestinians. Does his phrase sound a note of weary exasperation or express a sturdy resolve to engage the two sides in negotiations leading to a final settlement? The administration comes late to the game, revealing unexpected disarray among Bush policymakers. The success in Afghanistan is clearly no blueprint for solving more enduring and complicated problems elsewhere. Nonetheless, the president’s stern, and sometimes moving, words at a press conference on April 4, along with his decision to send Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Middle East almost certainly represent the last chance for real peace.

Secretary Powell stops on his way to the Mideast to meet with major Arab leaders, Crown Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt, and King Abdullah of Jordan. This delay has had the unfortunate consequence of seeming to give the Israelis an extension on their incursions into the West Bank despite statements by both Bush and Powell that the Israeli army must withdraw "without delay, right now." Yet, the purpose of the secretary’s stopovers is critical in drawing Arab leaders decisively and permanently into the negotiating process. Presumably the secretary will challenge them to condemn the suicide bombings and to pressure the Palestinians to halt them, just as the United States...

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