Where US and Israel Differ

FORTUNATELY for Americans, they will never have to live next to Al Qaeda. They can afford a war on Osama bin Laden's network.

Israel, however, can't afford a war against Palestinians to root out militants. Eventually, Israel and a Palestinian state must live side by side.

This distinction between the two wars is crucial if the escalating attacks on Israelis and the excessive retaliation are to end. The Bush administration, which was supportive of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's strategy after Sept. 11, finally criticized it firmly on Wednesday, rightly suggesting that it is a dead-end, especially with Yasser Arafat as an all-but-helpless leader.

Now the US can go further. It can ask for a rollback of Jewish settlements, while pushing Arab states to curb the suicide attacks. A Mideast peace would help remove at least one incentive for Al Qaeda to exist.

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