With Hosni Mubarak's impending departure, whatever form a new Egyptian Government takes, one thing is certain, the new Government is less likely to be friendly to Israel.
Tom Friedman is absolutely right when he says that it is time for Israel to make peace with Palestinians and that too in some haste. Prime Minister Netanyahu and his ultra right wing cabinet has dragged its feet to delay a meaningful peace dialogue, but time may be running out for Israel to come to a permanent settlement with Palestinians.
If the present political turmoil continues in the Middle East, Israel may find itself surrounded by countries with new and more hostile Governments who are likely to be much more sympathetic to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinians.
The current Palestinian leadership headed by Mahmoud Abbas, though not fully representative of all Palestinians, still offers Israel a real chance of a permanent and lasting peace. Israel has to be prepared to show flexibility on West Bank and Jerusalem and Palestinians must be flexible on the right of return of refugees.
President Obama should take the initiative and emphasize upon the Israeli Government that time for peace is now and if they miss this opportunity, they could inflict a heavy price on generations of Israelis and Palestinians.
Israel must also immediately release Palestinian political prisoners held in their jails for years. One such leader is Marwan Barghouti. He is potentially the President of an independent Palestinian state. He has the support of all Palestinians and is also well respected by Fatah and Hamas. He is a revolutionary of the modern kind, he wants education for all Palestinians and a peaceful co-existence with Israel.
It is time for Israel to act and act now.