On Friday, when I began to write this essay, it was to be about the hopeful signs that have emerged about finding peace in the Middle East. I mentioned Israeli Prime Minister Sharon's plan to pull out his troops and settlers from the Gaza Strip and leave it to the Palestinians. I recounted the equally remarkable decision by the Palestinian parliament to replace most of the late Yasser Arafat's old loyalists with a new Cabinet of highly qualified professionals.
I was cautiously optimistic, but I was also careful to include the caveat that it is never wise to lead a story on the Middle East with news of a cease-fire, because someone will break it before the story gets on television or into the newspaper.
And sure enough, just as I had finished the essay and was heading out the door, someone said, 'Not so fast, there's just been another suicide bombing in Israel.' Yet what happened next did not follow the same old pattern.
First, the Israelis decided not to retaliate immediately. They gave the new Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, time to make good on his pledge to track down the bombers. Abbas immediately denounced the attack as the work of militants bent on sabotaging peace efforts. They worked in concert with the Israelis, and within hours, the Palestinians had made arrests. So far the violence has been contained. Peace is not at hand yet. But even in the midst of this latest attack, we may be seeing a glimmer -- just a glimmer -- of a new day coming.
By Bob Schieffer