Only days after President Bush stood in Aqaba, Jordan, on June 4 and touted a road map to peace in the Middle East—with Israel’s Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas at his side—his plan was nearly in shreds. The Palestinian militant group Hamas snubbed the road map, rejected Abbas’s appeals for a cease-fire and launched terrorist attacks in Jerusalem. The Israelis struck back, targeting Hamas leaders in Gaza. Hamas pledged to continue to strike Israel, while Israel vowed to pursue Palestinian terrorists.
The post-Aqaba cycle of violence underscores a critical flaw in the road map to peace. It calls for a cease-fire as the first step toward eventual negotiations on the shape of a Palestinian state, thereby giving the extremists immediate veto power. All it takes is another suicide bombing to ensure that the first steps on the road are never taken.