It never fails. Whenever the United States or Israel plans a major peace initiative, Palestinian terrorists blow it up with a mass murder-suicide.
And so it was Tuesday, just as President George W. Bush was preparing a major Mideast policy statement calling for establishing a provisional Palestinian state on some West Bank and Gaza land, a Palestinian terrorist detonated nail-studded explosives on a Jerusalem bus crowded with school children and office workers, killing himself and at least 20 passengers.
So much for giving peace a chance. This horrific tragedy, the city's deadliest attack in six years, marked the 69th suicide killing in Israel in a year.
Hamas took credit for the cowardly attack which, predictably, cast a pall over Bush's speech and gave Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon all the ammunition he needed to oppose the Palestinian state and mount a new offensive into Palestinian territories.
In visiting the bloody site of the Jerusalem catastrophe, Sharon said Israel could not live with a neighbor-state dedicated to the extinction of Israel as the Islamic militant Hamas plainly is.
Although Yasser Arafat's Palestinian Authority denounced the suicide bombing, the deadly attack proves for the umpteeneth time that Arafat can't or won't curb Palestinian extremists who want no part of peace. His failure at delivering the goods is also what makes the PLO leader an unreliable partner to negotiate peace.
Earlier this month, in retaliation for a suicide mass-killing that took 17 Israeli lives, Israeli troops blew up Arafat headquarter buildings in the West Bank town of Ramallah.
This time Sharon may be sorely tempted to topple Arafat from power once and for all - but it's a temptation he should resist. Palestinians should get rid of Arafat, not Israel. Making a martyr of Arafat will not hasten that process.
Until responsible Palestinian leadership finally emerges, Israel would be well advised to continue building buffer zones and protective barriers in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and other points of entry to keep Palestinian terrorists out of vulnerable Israeli communities.