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Israeli-Palestinian Peace Talks: Let's Be Optimistic

Viewing the current round of Israeli-Palestinian peace negociations with anything but cynicism is difficult, but I'll let my eternal optimist shine through for a moment and point to three reasons why these talks are important.

First, the talks are actually happening, which empirically is better than them not happening. Second, they create an ever-so-slight chance that something meaningful might actually happen at a second round of talks that are arranged during this round. Third, Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has the possibility of turning the entire Palestinian state around, and if anything is settled now, he might be the guy to put the words into action.

Let's be clear. The issues of settlements, Hamas control of Gaza, and Palestinian demands for a capital in East Jerusalem are simply irreconcilable, and President Barack Obama is in no position to broker some magical solution. Hamas has terrorized Israelis twice this week in attempts to derail the discussions, including a gunman near the West Bank city of Hebron taking down a pregnant woman in cold blood.

But Fayyad condemned those attacks almost immediately — a welcome move from a PA leader. He is embarking on a phase of Palestinian development that include instituting a criminal justice system, tackling corruption, improving health care, building infrastructure and contributing to the cause of women, which is about a thousand times more than any PA authority has attempted to do in the past fifty years. He supports a two state solution, condemns terrorism, and most importantly, is preferred over his Hamas rival 55-22 percent according to a recent poll.
Fayyad thinks these talks are important, even though he isn't optimistic, either. Despite the fact that nothing will be accomplished now, miniscule movements could pave the way towards peace in the future.

That's about as much as you can hope for in this situation.

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