Hope Amid the Middle East’s Turmoil

LONDON – Syria is a living nightmare. Egypt hovers on the brink. But, as the opening of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority shows, there are signs of hope. And, though it may seem counter-intuitive, the region’s turmoil is finally bringing to the surface its fundamental problems in a way that allows them to be confronted and overcome. Now is a time not for despair, but for active engagement.

No one put the chances of reviving the Israel-Palestine peace process at more than minimal. Yet it has happened. And these are not talks about talks, but a full-blown revival of final-status negotiations, with an undertaking by both parties to remain in the process for at least nine months.

To those of us who have toiled, often fruitlessly, on this issue in the past, it is a huge achievement brought about by US Secretary of State John Kerry’s sheer dogged determination and the willingness of Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to take political risks with their domestic public opinion.

Much less noted was the visit of Yemen’s president, Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, to Washington, DC. Against all the odds, Yemen is undergoing a process of political transformation, with 500 delegates from all parts of society working on plans for democracy, justice, and equality.