It seems that Congressman Joe Pitts (R-PA) is a tad out of the loop on matters of Middle East peace. If it were up to him, Israelis and Palestinians would restart peace talks under the guidance of their respective leaders, Ariel Sharon and Yasser Arafat.

His advice does not seem to take into account the fact that Arafat died in 2004 and Sharon has been in a coma since 2006.

“With the global war against terrorism, it is now incumbent on Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Yasir Arafat to clamp down on Palestinian extremists that have perpetuated violence and to restart a peace process that has collapsed,” wrote Pitts in a recent, rather outdated response letter to a constituent.

The constituent is the father of Ian Rhodewalt, a journalist working for Mondoweiss, a news site that covers the Middle East and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. After visiting his son in Ramallah, Rhodewalt senior voiced opposition to the passage of US House Resolution 268, which affirmed support for the resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and condemned the Palestinians.

The recipient of the letter was understandably baffled by the Congressman’s form-letter response, which, according to Rhodewalt, urged “negotiations between a vegetable and a dead man.”

The DC-circuit blogs and papers, predictably, have had a field day at the congressman’s expense. The Moderate Voice, a news blog, named him “Dumb Congressman of the Week.”

Neither Arafat nor Sharon were available for comment.

*     *     *

Editor’s note: A satirical response to Congressman Pitts’ letter can be found here.