Opportunity in Mideast

ISRAEL has finally completed its withdrawal from Gaza amid high drama. This is, as Javier Solana of European Union has argued, a momentous occasion for both Palestinians and Israelis. Whatever Sharon's reasons for pulling out of Gaza, there is no doubt that this has opened a new opportunity for reinvigorating the stalled Middle East peace process.

It is therefore good to know the EU has launched fresh diplomatic initiative to revive the Palestinian-Israeli dialogue. The EU efforts must be complemented and backed by other members of the so-called Middle East peace quartet, most importantly, United States. President George W Bush welcomed the Gaza exit as a 'historic step.'

At this stage it is crucial that the US, the world's only superpower and the major player in the region, not only involve itself in the peace process but push for the next logical steps after the Gaza pullout. The next stage in the peace process should be the steps leading to the independent state of Palestine, which President Bush had promised as part of his roadmap.

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