Halting peace talks wont stop terror

It all seemed sickeningly routine.

Still, the twin bombings that killed at least 15 people and injured some 150 in Jerusalem's Machane Yehuda marketplace Wednesday were shocking.

And the killers — Hamas and Islamic Jihad took responsibility — also won the usual victory they seek: a halt to the peace process.

So now Palestinian suicide bombings offer a depressingly predictable scenario: human beings blown to bits in the heart of Israel; condemnations from Israelis, Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, and the United States; demands that Arafat halt terror.

Is there a way out of the sad cycle?

We suggest there is, and unfortunately we're repeating ourselves here: Stay the course.

The only glimmer of hope for a real Mideast peace is to create some form of Palestinian independence, side by side with a safe, secure Jewish state.

Perhaps the suicide bombers play into the hands of those who would prefer that the Oslo Accord goes away. But without Oslo, there is only one guarantee — even more bloodshed.

The road ahead must lead to real negotiations, not political posturing or brinkmanship. Arafat cannot continue to vow to fight terror, arrest a few fundamentalists and free them, and then offer condolences when terror strikes again. He must take real steps — mass arrests and jailings if need be — and change his political tone to reflect a commitment to peace.

He cannot talk out of both sides of his kaffiyeh, telling the world he wants peace while telling his own people he wants holy war.

And Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu cannot continue his own form of double-talk, offering token commitments to Oslo but then taking steps sure to undermine the process (such as Har Homa and the Western Wall tunnel opening).

Netanyahu inherited a peace plan that polls claim at least half his nation supports, and he must see it through.