By William Markiewicz

Because of terror? No. Because Hamas is the only institution that has real social and administrative authority among the Palestinians and Sharon refuses to take the Palestinians seriously. For the same reason, Bush and Sharon have refused to negotiate with Arafat, even if he was ready to go "to Canossa," by admitting his errors. Abbas is acceptable precisely because he has no authority. Sharon wants to discuss the Palestinian issue only with Bush and with members of his own government. He continues to play the game of endurance, convinced that the Palestinians will be first to tire of the bloodshed. Sharon is as stubborn as Goering was when he tried to convince Hitler that the Luftwaffe would overpower Britain. Hitler stopped believing. Now it's time for the US lobby to stop believing that Sharon can replace negotiations with retaliations.

Arafat out? Now is time for Sharon to go away -- unless he wakes up and shows the courage and vision to leave Palestinian territory to the Palestinians. After all, Israel's signature is on this solution. Israel must also honour its previous pledge to leave the Arab part of Jerusalem to the Arabs. Only then will Israel get the world on its side, and the infernal terror/ retaliation cycle will disappear. Israel can only benefit morally and politically by abandoning the territories heavily populated by the Palestinian neighbour.

Not the Bush-Sharon tandem, but a team like Rabin/Arafat are fit for the peace negotiations. As always with politicians whose muscle outgrows brain they are unable to recognize the obvious.

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