Arafat, Sharon should take chance at peace proposed summit offers

Posted: Thursday, May 09, 2002

Seizing what he calls a ''new window of opportunity,'' Secretary of State Colin Powell announced last week that the United States and three partners -- the European Union, Russia and the United Nations -- are preparing a Middle Eastern peace conference to take place this summer. ...

Those are lofty goals indeed, and we must be careful not to pronounce the conference doomed before it has had a chance to achieve even modest concessions from both sides of the conflict.

If adversaries are talking, with the assistance of other powerful interested parties, there is less chance that the fighting will continue on the scale of the past year.

The Bush administration is right to proceed with what Powell called ''serious and accelerated negotiations,'' and it is squarely right in insisting that the leaders on both sides take greater responsibility for actions that lead only to more violence.

It is to be hoped that Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat will see this gesture as an opening for crucial negotiation -- a real chance to end the bloodshed and then begin the hard and tedious journey toward a meaningful peace.

The Israeli and Palestinian people have suffered enough -- indeed, far too much.

The proposed summit is yet another opportunity to try to ease that suffering if not end it altogether. We pray that the two peoples' leaders will be men enough and selfless enough to take that chance.

-- Fort Worth (Texas) Star-Telegram

May 6

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