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Tufts E-News --Bush Must Pave Road To Peace

Tufts E-News --Bush Must Pave Road To PeaceAs Israeli-Palestinian violence surges, it appears the road to peace is not without curves – and according to a Tufts expert, it is time for President Bush to lead the way. Washington.

Boston [06.12.03] Just a week after the Aqaba summit, when George W. Bush outlined a plan for peace in the Middle East, the president's initiative is already being put to the test by renewed violence between Israelis and Palestinians. The fallout from recent military attacks and a suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus appears to have put a damper on peace talks. But according to Tufts expert Marc Gopin, proper leadership by the U.S. can keep the recent violence from becoming a political disaster.

"[This week's violence is] a major setback," Gopin, professor at Tufts' Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, told the Boston Herald. "[After the recent Aqaba summit in Jordan] the two parties were not going to escalate the conflict."

While the summit included discussions on quelling violence, the Tufts professor says leaders of both parties did not adequately discuss how reduction of bloodshed would be implemented.

"Gopin said the summit failed to address in detail how the conflict should be contained. The bombing underscores Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas' perceived weakness as a leader - he might be unable to control the terrorists - while the attacks show Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is unwilling to withhold military action," reported the Herald.

A Middle East expert, Gopin said that in future discussions, more concrete plans need to be made regarding how to take apart and control terrorist organizations.

"Gopin said he believes the flaw lies in a failure at Aqaba to establish an agreement on whether terrorist groups and their infrastructures would be dismantled by violent or nonviolent means," reported the Herald.

According to Gopin, it is time for President Bush to take an active role in the peace process. The Tufts expert said that Bush needs to learn to deliver strong messages to both Prime Ministers Sharon and Abbas in order to promote successful talks.

"My instinct says the U.S. president is getting educated on the subtleties of how these sides provoke [each other]," Gopin told the Christian Science Monitor.

Gopin said that Bush needs to engage himself as a mediator in order to convince both leaders that revenge is not in their best interest.

"It is important now for Bush to get his feet wet, to see where the problems are and assert himself," Gopin told the Herald. "It has to be very clear at this point what the step-by-step process is going to be, what both sides will be held to."

The Tufts expert told the Monitor that while the recent violence is a setback, proper handling of the situation can prevent it from further derailing the peace effort.

"Now it's time for leadership," Gopin told the Monitor. "You build with a clear vision of the goal and what steps need to be taken to get to that goal."

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