Friday, July 17, 2009

Green shoots in the West Bank

The New York Times describes some hopeful trends in the West Bank.
For the first time since the second Palestinian uprising broke out in late 2000, leading to terrorist bombings and fierce Israeli countermeasures, a sense of personal security and economic potential is spreading across the West Bank as the Palestinian Authority’s security forces enter their second year of consolidating order.

The International Monetary Fund is about to issue its first upbeat report in years for the West Bank, forecasting a 7 percent growth rate for 2009. Car sales in 2008 were double those of 2007. Construction on the first new Palestinian town in decades, for 40,000, will begin early next year north of Ramallah. In Jenin, a seven-story store called Herbawi Home Furnishings has opened, containing the latest espresso machines. Two weeks ago, the Israeli military shut its obtrusive nine-year-old checkpoint at the entrance to this city, part of a series of reductions in security measures.
The budding growth and the increasing competence of the government headed by Mahmoud Abbas will help to decrease radicalism in the West Bank and improve the conditions for a secure and peaceful two-state solution.

A few calm and mildly prosperous years will not solve the region's problems, but they are an important start.