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'Road map' is in a coma, U. expert says

Viewing the Middle East in medical terms, the so-called road map to peace "is in a coma," according to Ibrahim Karawan, director of the Middle East Center at the University of Utah.

Treatment is desperately needed to try to get the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians in a state of remission. Sometimes, victories can be measured by preventing deterioration, and this is one of those times, Karawan said in a phone interview Friday afternoon.

He believes the next three days are critical. During that time frame it will become apparent what direction the United States is going to take. The United States can't solve the situation by itself, but it is the key partner in the overall peace process in the Middle East, Karawan said.

"What statements will Bush make in the next 72 hours? Will Bush send Colin Powell to the Mideast?" Karawan wonders.

What is required is some creative diplomacy by the United States that involves Egypt, Jordan, Israel and the new Palestinian leader, incoming Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia, in the process, Karawan said.

If the parties feel that America is paralyzed, that Bush has too much on his plate with Iraq and North Korea, an escalation of hostilities will likely occur, which would be disastrous not only for the Middle East but for the world, Karawan said,.

Peace in the Middle East will come about incrementally, which is why diplomacy must be vigorously pursued immediately to prevent further deterioration, Karawan said.