Hope In The Middle East?

There are too few days when anyone can find hope from the news stories that originate from the Middle East.  It is tragic that one of the most historically and strategic regions of the world produces so few events that might lead to less chaos and bloodshed.  So when an event takes places that might work to reduce frictions in the Middle East we should all take notice.

Israeli Prime Minister Olmert made a statement this weekend that places him and his nation once again on the wild ride of diplomacy.  He voiced strong support for Secretary of State Rice, and her idea of a Middle East peace conference in Maryland later this fall.  Solutions are being sought for the long simmering final status issues which are required in order to resolve needs for the Palestinian people, and safety for the citizens of Israel.

The four final issues involve the status of Jerusalem, the contours of a Palestinian state, the essential removal of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and the fate of refugees who were forced to leave their homes in Israel. 

Not only did Olmert give voice to the idea that real progress could be made in the final months of the Bush Administration, but more importantly he broke ranks with the more conservative and outdated members of his own government.  Some of those members feel any movement towards peace and justice always comes at a bad time.  So when any Prime Minister stands up to those in Israel that never want a final resolution, that leader then needs our support.

For far too long Washington has been reticent in demanding movement from Jerusalem on the very thorny issues that divide the parties in the region.   But now there is plenty of reason for all parties to act.

Everyone needs a good result from the conference.  The Bush Administration needs something other than war and bloodshed to show as their foreign policy legacy.  The Palestinians need a just settlement after decades of cruel treatment, and the Israelis need to find peace with their neighbors.

There is hope, at least a glimmer, and that is better than nothing at all.

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