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Terrorist Attacks in Gaza Prompt Similar US Response

John Bourke, PRAVDA.Ru's Contributing  Editor, reports on events in the Middle East
A new terrorist strike in Gaza in the Middle East this week seems to have provoked a similar reaction from the Bush administration in the US and one that is starting to sound increasingly ineffectual at this point.

Yet again, the emphasis from the White House appears based on the premise that terrorist activity needs to stop first and foremost before any meaningful peace process between the Israelis and Palestinians can commence.

However, two Palestinian prime ministers later and with no end in sight to suicide bombings, not to mention the continued building of Israeli settlements, a dividing wall and surgical anti-terrorist attacks on Hamas leaders, it must now be time to consider if such a one-ensional approach on the part of the Bush administration can ever work at all.

Yet, in itself, that is perhaps the missed point right there - at they are two parties involved in this dispute and not merely one and until both are going to be held responsible for enflaming matters then it seems difficult to understand how the US is going to broker peace in the region at all.

Unfortunately, however, in a post 9-11 world, President George W. Bush and his team continuously seem to view the world's problems in simple, moralistic terms of good versus evil, and politics these days are rarely ever so cut and dry. If ever there was an area where things often do not conveniently fall into tidy black and white categories it is international affairs where, more often than not, the gray area in the middle can be the biggest of the lot.

Yet we have already seen situations in other countries where defining things in this way has proved greatly controversial and one that many feel has been hijacked by those wishing to label any potential opposition as terrorists - Russia and Chechyna, India and Pakistan and Israel and Palestine amongst others.

History has already shown the dangers of such handling things like this. The Conservative government of Margaret Thatcher in the UK in the 1980s adopted an equally uncompromising approach to the issue of Northern Ireland and the IRA, and yet some 20 odd years later what subsequently developed as it's political wing, Sinn Fein, has now become a major part of the legitimate, political democratic process there with elected representatives.

That is not imply by any means that groups such as Hamas, Islamic Jihad, al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade would ever follow in such footsteps (although you just never can tell) but it is to ponder on the usefulness of a peace process that states that if only the violence would stop by the terrorists then all the problems would be solved and life would improve.

Not neccesarily by any means and it is a dangerous naivety to base a peace process on that one single premise which is effectively what is going on here.

All of this of course works on the basis that the Palestinian Authority even has the ability to curb the activities of such groups which is a debatable assumption in itself. Either they don't in which case there seems little point in demanding that they carry out what they can't do, or they do but do not want to do it. Either way, no one is disarming anyone there right now nor is there much evidence to indicate that anything like that will happen any time soon either.

Even mere pragmatism must demand then a broader and more comprehensive solution.

For that to happen the Bush administration has got to be prepared to apportion blame on both sides and display a greater level of even-handedness in their handling of this matter and it does not instill confidence in that regard when even a resolution in the UN criticising Israel for considering the assassination of Yasser Arafat (a democratically elected leader whether on likes him or not) could not get US support as it vetoed it.

And so in the meantime the international community simply sits and waits. Violence goes on, the deaths pile up and peace of any kind seems no nearer now then when this entire Roadmap process began.

Perhaps the much needed progress towards that will only ever really begin to happen when the White House comes to terms with the fact that to bring it about will require them to demand a cessation of hostile activities towards each other on both sides and not just on one of them.

John Bourke is a writer and veteran Public Relations consultant who has worked with the media in both the UK and US for the last 20 years.

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