Is road map the same old scenario

Another peace plan, another suicide bombing.

We've seen this scenario time after time.

President Bush promised things would be different after the Iraq war. But we think he will have as much trouble dealing with the Palestinians as he is having dealing with Iraq's majority Shiite population.

U.S. officials are pretending the election of Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas will make a difference. Yet they are ignoring the fact that for years Abbas was President Yasser Arafat's second-in-command. Abbas may talk peace now, but he remains an Arafat underling.

Moreover, most Palestinian leaders have said they will not obey him. On top of that, what little respect Abbas has emanates from the West Bank but not in Gaza, where most of the terrorism is formulated by Hamas.

On the Israel side, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon is running a government full of right-wingers who oppose any deal with the Palestinians, especially one that entails surrendering territory and abandoning West Bank settlements.

With every terrorist attack, their position is hardened, and they win new supporters.

On Wednesday morning — only hours after the Tel Aviv suicide bombing — both Abbas and Sharon were handed the U.S. "road map" for Mideast peace. It guarantees the Palestinians a state by 2005 as long as terrorism stops.

But after Tuesday night's bombing in Tel Aviv, which killed at least three innocent bystanders, we have no reason to believe the Palestinian leadership can actually stop the terror.

While Bush says he intends to push the road map, he is likely to turn his attention elsewhere if terrorism continues and negotiations become more of a remote possibility.

We hate to be pessimistic, but there is no more reason for optimism now than there was before the Iraq war and before Abbas became prime minister.

If the Palestinians' goal is to push Israel into the sea, the suicide bombings will continue. But if the Palestinians truly want to live in peace next to Israel, the violence must end now. It's their decision. Not Israel's and not Bush's.