May peace prevail in Middle East

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This week's elections in Israel have commanded a stunning amount of international attention. And for good reason: The future of the 3-year-old Middle East peace process rides on the results.

It was a year in which a prime minister was assassinated, suicide bombs exploded repeatedly in the heart of Israel's cities and a war across the Lebanese border was launched. The need for peace in the Middle East became clearer than ever.

It has been a year of trauma, bloodshed and divisiveness — not only among Israelis but among Jews abroad who have argued bitterly over whether the Mideast peace process is constructive or destructive.

While all want to end violence, there is obvious disagreement about the best way to achieve that goal.

We believe that the peace process that started with the 1993 Oslo Accords has already yielded historic and dramatic results. Out of it has come peace with Jordan and with the Palestinian Liberation Organization, once Israel's avowed enemy.

There are pitfalls. PLO chief Yasser Arafat's efforts to clamp down on terrorism have yielded mixed results. The Palestinian National Council's move to drop its charter calling for Israel's destruction remains unclear — did they or didn't they?

But peace means hope. Hope that the Palestinians and Israelis can live side by side and build a flourishing regional economy. Hope that Syria, which many believe to have been behind Hezbollah's recent missile campaign against northern Israel, could be Israel's next peace partner.

We hope the vision of a wider Mideast peace motivated most Israelis when they went to the polls Wednesday to elect a prime minister and a parliament. Such vision is ultimately a necessity — regardless of philosophical differences.

Last week's front page of the Bulletin contained a story about Labor and Likud ideas blurring. Perhaps, through cooperation between the two parties, the blur can become a clear vision of peace.