Roger Cohen

jerusalen_israelCohen tells of his recent talk with Col. Avi Gil of the Israeli Defense Forces, who seems cautiously optimistic about the prospects of peace between Israel and Palestine. After leaving Israel for a two year stint training with the US Marine Corps, Gil returned to West Bank surprised to see the thickness of the yellow pages had tripled, a sure sign of an increase in business as well as a decrease in violence. Gil admires the state-building of Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad but thinks he may be “walking on the edge” because his pledge of nonviolence hasn’t stopped the stone throwing or Molotov cocktails. Tensions will surely flare when the world pushes for Palestinian statehood in 2011 or 2012 and Israel applies the brakes. For now, Gil says, “Let’s walk slowly to arrive as fast we can.”

Cohen is a columnist for the New York Times.

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