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Eye-for-an-eye cycle must end

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The Bush administration is learning what so many before have learned about trying to find a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian problem. Solutions seem easy to conjure but impossible to implement.

No solution, no matter how logical or hopeful, and no matter how much popular support it enjoys, will survive long once the opponents of peace strap bombs to themselves and enter crowded streets.

And once the killing begins, neither side seems capable of finding a fitting counterstrategy other than simply killing more people in return.

So it was with the Oslo accords, and so it has been for the road map to peace. But this somber reality must not lead to an official policy of defeatism. The Bush administration can't afford to give up in its efforts to bring an end to the conflict. On the contrary, it should redouble its efforts.

Utahns have a great interest in seeing the current drawn-out conflict end. Until a few years ago, tourism between this state and Israel was brisk, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was educating many students through the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center, which sits mostly empty now.

The trouble, unfortunately, is that the main actors in this drama are part of the problem. Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat does not seem interested in genuine peace, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's decision to build a wall around West Bank settlements seems fraught with perils, particularly if he decides to build it around newer settlements, which would, in effect, imprison many Palestinians who live there, as well.

Both sides keep inching in the wrong direction, looking for advantages they might later use as bargaining chips toward a peace that never comes.

Meanwhile, the decision by Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas to resign last week was a defeat for U.S. efforts to isolate Arafat and Hamas, the militant group carrying out the suicide bombings.

Both sides know what an equitable solution would look like. Israel would have to withdraw from its more recent West Bank settlements, and the Palestinians must dismantle their militant groups and begin establishing the framework for a democratic government.

Getting there is the tricky part. Violence, it has been amply demonstrated, will not get it done. Somehow, Washington needs to convince both sides of this.