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From the volatile Middle East in the aftermath of America's decisive victory over the regime of Saddam Hussein comes a glimmer of hope for advancing peace between Israel and the Palestinian people. Consider the stunning words of Israel's prime minister spoken this week to members of his Likud party.
"You may not like the word, but what's happening is occupation," said Ariel Sharon. "Holding 3.5 million Palestinians is a bad thing for Israel, for the Palestinians and for the Israeli economy."
Such enlightened comments from one of Israel's most avowed hawks can only be viewed as remarkable and hopeful.
Similarly, hopeful comments about the disastrous nature of the current infatada and the need for it to end are coming from Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas. More hopeful signs can be found among other Arab leaders where an encouraging new attitude seems to be emerging in the post-Saddam era.
As always with efforts to find peace in the Middle East, the "devil is in the details." So-called "road maps" are always fragile and filled with exacerbating minefields. This time is no different. Interpreting the real meaning of what's said publicly is tricky as both sides posture for political and negotiating clout. Yet, they are talking. Peace is on their minds. And that is far better than ongoing hostilities.