Since Israel relaxed West Bank checkpoints in June, there's been a newfound sense of both security and economic freedom for the struggling Palestinian territory, according to the New York Times' Thomas Friedman.
Friedman says the economic improvement is largely a result of reformed police tactics and increased trade:
For Palestinians, long trapped between burgeoning Israeli settlements and an Israeli occupation army, subject to lawlessness in their own cities and the fecklessness of their own political leadership, life has clearly started to improve a bit, thanks to a new virtuous cycle: improved Palestinian policing that has led to more Palestinian investment and trade that has led to the Israeli Army dismantling more checkpoints in the West Bank that has led to more Palestinian travel and commerce.
Recent statistics for the West Bank support the claim that things are getting better. The International Monetary Fund is forecasting 7 percent growth, and construction is about to begin on the first new town in decades, according to a New York Times account.
Friedman is hopeful that economic improvements could lead to political gains:
Make no mistake: Palestinians still want the Israeli occupation to end, and their own state to emerge, tomorrow. That is not going to happen. But for the first time since [the collapse of the 2000 Oslo peace accords], there is an economic-security dynamic emerging on the ground in the West Bank that has the potential — the potential — to give the post-Yasir Arafat Palestinians another chance to build the sort of self-governing authority, army and economy that are prerequisites for securing their own independent state. A Palestinian peace partner for Israel may be taking shape again.