High hopes for Middle East peace

Since the State of Israel was established by the United Nations in 1948, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has festered while peace talks faltered, leaving little cause for optimism. Last Thursday, however, saw a rare bright spot in the ongoing saga when a three-hour peace negotiation took place between Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas. The two leaders exchanged thoughts about security, dispensations for Palestinian refugees, and the diplomatic status of Jerusalem, while the US Secretary of State, Hilary Rodham Clinton, mediated the exploratory talks.

Both leaders focused on suspending the construction of Jewish settlements in the West Bank, and hoped to set in motion treaties that will see compromise from both sides. According to the New York Times, Nabil Shaath, a negotiator for Abbas's Fatah Party said, "The climate, and atmosphere was positive and serious and down to business."

In her statement reopening the negotiations, Hillary Clinton voiced her optimism for the latest round of peace talks. "The core disputes separating the two sides could be resolved within a year," Clinton said.

While these talks are a step in the right direction, a cloud of conflict still hangs over this issue. Most recently, a Hamas attack killed four Israelis in the West Bank on the eve of the Mideast peace talks in Washington. Afterwards, around 3,000 people rallied in Gaza, celebrating the attack. The four causalities included a pregnant woman, her husband, and another couple who left behind six children.

So what I don't understand is how "peace" can be achieved within a year when 3,000 people applaud the killings of four (5 including the unborn child) innocent civilians. This attack didn't happen a year or two ago, it happened last week, and just last week hatred ran free in the streets of Gaza.

The fact that these two long-time adversaries, who have been in direct conflict for decades, can come together to negotiate in the interest peace again proves that mindsets can change, and that each of us can take a stand and fight for peace instead of war. Even if it's not our initial instinct, we need to do what is best for the future of our children and their children. As tacky as it sounds, we need to find a common ground where we can create a world filled with tolerance, not terrorism, and focus on self-control rather than global control.

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