The two most important elements to resolving the terrible carnage tearing apart the Holy Lands are not evident, yet can easily be called upon - dialogue and the United States. Without these, Israel and the Palestinians will continue their deadly tit-for-tat war. Almost two years after the start of the Palestinian intifada, nothing has changed. For each attack on Israelis by Palestinians, reprisals that are just as ruthless are launched. It is a game that is going nowhere and achieving only corpses. Friday's killing of 12 Israelis by Palestinian militants in Hebron will be no different. The three Palestinians gunned down by Israeli troops after the attack will not be considered sufficient justice for what has become a simplistic policy of an eye for an eye. This is no solution to a problem rapidly spinning out of control. The conflict may be complex and steeped in centuries of hatred, but in the 21st century, the sanest way to confront disputes is through dialogue. Unfortunately, US President George W. Bush also does not hold to this philosophy. As the commander-in-chief of the world's only superpower, and Israel's closest ally, he holds the key to broking a cease-fire and an eventual peace deal. But he is refusing to do anything. This may be because of the powerful Jewish lobby in the US, or perhaps his own convictions are that Israel is right and the Palestinians are wrong. Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's hands are tied. He has just stitched together a caretaker cabinet to take Israeli into elections on January 28. While on shaky political ground, he is in no position to change his hard-line policies. Ultra-nationalists in the cabinet support settlements in the occupied territories and see military reprisals against Palestinian attacks as a necessity. Mr Sharon refuses to talk peace with Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, his arch-enemy. But there is no alternative to Mr Arafat, who has led his people for four decades. Due to Israel's political uncertainty, no change can be expected until after the election. Even then, question marks remain due to the importance of coalitions in Israeli governments. The possibility of war against Iraq also clouds the future. If the US leads an allied attack to topple President Saddam Hussein, the Palestinian issue will be dragged further off the international radar. One solution rests in the hands of Israelis. If they want peace, they will vote for moderate candidates. If they do not, another nation, such as China, must step into the void and bring the combatants together for meaningful dialogue.