The new Palestinian Prime Minister, Ahmed Qurei, faces daunting challenges. He must tread between the shrapnel shards of constant Israeli military actions against the Palestinians, the ambivalence of the US about the road map, and a plethora of militant Palestinian groups seeking revenge for every one of their assassinated leaders. This sickening cycle of violence is all too predictable. It need not be inevitable.
Breaking the sequence of Israeli assassination followed by Palestinian suicide bombing requires a change of thinking and action.
The idea that either side can crush the other and declare victory has proven to be a seductive and dangerous mirage, leaving behind only a trail of blood and hate. Israeli leaders must be made to understand that preemptive attacks and assassinations only increase the chance of more anti-Israeli attacks, not less.
So far, the right-wing Sharon government, which seems to give only lip service to peace, is more than happy to engage in military actions that it knows will lead to Palestinian retaliations. As harsh Israeli actions fail to deter Palestinians, Israel seems to raise the stakes, hoping that even harsher, more inhuman acts might bring the Palestinians to heel. Instead, brutal Israeli actions produce only more determined Palestinian reaction, and the cycle of killing and violence continues.