The year in which everything changes?
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The year in which everything changes?

Israelis and Palestinians have relaunched peace talks, yet the Palestinians are threatening to quit if Israel does not accede to all of their demands.

Democrats control the executive and legislative branches, but face the serious likelihood of losing their congressional majority in November’s midterm elections.

The West is trying to pressure Iran to give up its nuclear ambitions. Iran has essentially ignored the West.

While all of these events may seem like déjà vu, 5771 may in fact be the year in which everything changes.

While Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas hemmed and hawed about restarting peace negotiations, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad has spent the past few years laying the foundations of a Palestinian state. He’s largely credited for the creation of jobs and infrastructure. Also, law and order have substantially come to the west bank – thanks largely to American-trained security forces. During the Oslo years, Israel held what seemed like endless negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, but the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat never began preparing his people for statehood. Fayyad has done that, and reportedly he has a plan to go to the United Nations to ask for recognition once all the groundwork has been laid.

Whether or not he carries through with that request, he has transformed the Palestinian portions of the west bank, which look closer to statehood than ever before. Gaza, on the other hand….

We are cautiously hopeful – if not optimistic – that the current Israeli-Palestinian negotiations will bear some fruit, even if it is just an agreement to keep talking.

Analysts say Iran still has about a year before it can turn out anything close to a nuclear bomb, but the Islamic Republic won a major psychological victory last month when its first nuclear reactor went online. The Bushehr plant may not be able to produce the amount of nuclear material needed for a bomb, but it is a message to the West that Iran is not backing down. We are likely to see a change in the West’s strategy in the coming months, especially if the Republicans retake Congress.

We wish all of our readers a happy and healthy 5771. May it be the year that peace spreads throughout the world, and may we all be granted the wisdom to learn from the mistakes of the past.

J.L.

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