As is common in the Middle East, sudden events have altered the line up on the political chessboard. The suicide bomber who struck on Friday - the latest in a string of terrorist attacks on Israeli citizens - killed not only innocent civilians in a barbaric attack, but also put at risk the entire peace initiative launched by US President George W. Bush. Shortly before the attack, US Secretary of State Colin Powell - in Israel to attempt the ambitious task of brokering an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal - had been frustrated by his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, who refused to offer a timetable for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank. Undoubtedly US pressure needed to be increased substantially if Israel was going to respond to demands from the vast majority of the international community that Israeli troops pull back. One insane suicide bomber changed all this. Now more political manoeuvring is needed before progress can be hoped for. Suddenly, Israel had a graphic piece of justification for its actions to lay before Mr Powell. The US demanded Mr Arafat broadcast a condemnation of Friday's attack in Arabic before any meeting between him and the US Secretary of State could take place. Yesterday Mr Powell spent the day doing the diplomatic equivalent of treading water - meeting religious leaders. Then, sure enough, last night a statement condemning the Friday attack, along with much else, emerged from the besieged Palestinian headquarters. One way or another it is clear that if Mr Powell's thankless task is to succeed he is going to have to offend some of the parties involved - possibly all of them. Certainly, without a meeting with Mr Arafat - which will offend Israel greatly - there can be no basis for a peace deal. Without a meeting between the two men, Mr Arafat's position as Palestinian leader appears doomed. He now desperately needs the meeting to re-establish his damaged status internationally and domestically. Without US recognition, Israel is likely to increasingly sideline him and very possibly arrest and expel him. The Israelis - with much justification - no longer have much confidence that Mr Arafat any longer has the authority to rein in the bombers. But the truth is that he remains the only person to negotiate with. Uncomfortable as he may feel, and as furious as it will make Israel, Mr Powell simply has to meet and shake the hand of Yasser Arafat or this seemingly last-hope US peace initiative cannot succeed - a prospect that should worry the international community profoundly.