One legacy of Bill Clinton's hands-on diplomacy in the Middle East is a US-led study of the causes of recent violence between Israel and the Palestinians.
President Bush is less hands-on in this conflict, but he'd be wise not to dismiss the study's proposals, which were released last week. The head of the inquiry is former Sen. George Mitchell, who was mediator in Northern Ireland and knows how to call a spark a spark.
His group suggests both sides end the violence swiftly and resume talks under existing pacts. But the boldest advice is that the Palestinian Authority should arrest "terrorists," while Israel should "freeze" expansion of Jewish settlements in Palestinian areas.
In other words, the two must discourage and stop "incitement in all forms" that leads to violence.
While the current intifada among Palestinians has many causes, the report cites last September's visit by Ariel Sharon, then leader of the Likud party and now prime minister, to the Temple Mount. The visit had a "provocative effect [that] should have been foreseen." Just as provocative now is Yasser Arafat's apparent condoning of gunmen firing on Israelis from Palestinian-populated areas.
Despite these proposals, Mr. Sharon plans to expand existing Jewish settlements and will only curtail them as part of a final deal. Meanwhile, Palestinian attacks on Israel continue.
When will both sides stop pouring oil on fire and instead pour oil on their mutual wounds?
(c) Copyright 2001. The Christian Science Monitor