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Taking the Mideast peace plunge

The Obama administration hopes all parties will jump into the peace process together. Egypt's Mubarak and other Arab leaders must leap, too.

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One of many problems in making Middle East peace is that no one wants to go first. Decades of injustice, violence, and false promises have sown such distrust that the players look for proof of sincerity from others before considering a move themselves.

As a consequence, they all stand frozen, waiting – as if on the shore of a cold lake – for the other one to jump in.

The Obama administration is trying to shake up the waiting game by moving all parties in "parallel steps" toward a return to Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. "Everybody's going to have to take steps; everybody's going to have to take some risks," Barack Obama said this week at a press conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

"Everybody" must include Egypt itself. As the most populous Arab nation, as neighbor to the troublesome Gaza Strip, as erstwhile peace partner with Israel, Egypt plays a critical role in the region. But even as American special envoy George Mitchell scurries around the Middle East trying to get the peace ducks in a row, Egypt and the Arab nations could be doing much more to support Mr. Mitchell's efforts.

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