Since the Israeli elections and the big todo about Avigdor Lieberman's anti-peace stance, talks have been underway with the Palestinian Authority. Lieberman is certainly unpopular, but as President Abbas has stated, he speaks his mind. There is no question about what Lieberman believes. Thoughts seem to emerge unfiltered from his lips. Lieberman is also an open advocate for a two state solution.
That said, there are some problems with his version of two states, the primary one seeming impossible. Lieberman wants to transfer Arab villages within Israel to a Palestinian state in exchange for lands upon which Jews live today. While violating numerous Israeli laws, the problem is that it makes too much sense to simply discount. Why not trade land? Why not give Israeli Arabs the opportunity to go to a newly founded Palestinian state?
One of the biggest difficulties that people have with Lieberman is that he is hard to read, being neither a die hard religious Zionist who is unwilling to give up an inch of land, nor a religious Jew, nor a dove. His ideas are often awful and even hateful in many eyes, but he is willing to work toward peace in a tangible way. It is going to be a very strange few years in Israel. Shimon Peres speaks of Iran in terms I would have expected from Ariel Sharon, Ehud Barak joins an outwardly right wing coalition, and Avigdor Lieberman is working toward peace.
Meanwhile things seemingly have settled down in Gaza. Egypt has stopped some of the smuggling and arrested a huge group of Hizballah fighters in the Sinai.
Things may actually be looking up on the peace front. If Palestinian institutions get the chance to work and the populations of Gaza and the West Bank get the chance simply to live in security, prosperity will begin to follow and negotiations might actually have a chance to succeed. I don't see a Palestinian state just around the corner, but I do see substantial improvement in quality of life on the way.
This week, I am probably more optimistic than I have been for months. The process seems to be going in a positive direction.