It's not for no reason that we kept our fingers crossed during the peace negotiations and hoped for a breakthrough. It's not for no reason that we pulled our hair out when the housing minister continued issuing bids for construction in the settlements.
It's not for no reason that we were angry when we saw the images of the unjustified shooting in Bitunia. It's not for no reason that we were furious when the government ignored the security prisoners' hunger strike. It was clear that the despair, hatred, hostility and anger on the Palestinian side would find their way out.
We knew that time isn't on our side, and that the situation involves critical decisions and human life. Seven years of calm, in which we could have improved our relations with the Palestinians and reached a peace agreement, were wasted.
When the Palestinian government fought Hamas, it wasn't enough for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and he found excuses not to make progress; when the Palestinians asked for a settlement construction freeze, the government favored the prisoner release option; and when Minister Tzipi Livni was still trying to bring about a diplomatic breakthrough, Minister Naftali Bennett likened the Palestinian issue to a shrapnel in the backside.
Now the shrapnel is beginning to bleed, and the wound is threatening the entire region. What is left for the prime minister to do now is to deepen the blame game and take advantage of the incident in order to win public sympathy. A better future – for us and for them – is something the prime minister is not interested in bringing.
There is no justification for acts of violence, and definitely not kidnapping teenagers and tormenting their dear families. Everyone who believes in dividing the land and in a peace agreement wants that in order to prevent such incidents in the future.
The terrorists behind this act must be captured and punished. There is no and there will be no justification for kidnapping and harming innocent youth. But in order to understand how to deal with the problem and prevent escalation, we must examine reality from the Palestinian viewpoint as well.
When from every Palestinian window one can see bulldozers building more settlements without leaving room for the Palestinian state, the ground is sizzling and the feeling of helplessness and frustration will look for a way out.
With dozens of Palestinians killed in the past few years in clashes with IDF soldiers, one could not expect that there would not be extremists on the other side seeking revenge. The terrorists don't need incitement on the Palestinian media or in textbooks. The harsh and humiliating reality the Palestinians live in is stronger than any television broadcast or any sermon in a mosque.
Did we expect all the Palestinians to sit quietly and accept the deepening Israeli occupation submissively? Did we think that the calm would last forever and that Gush Etzion would turn into a pastoral tourist site without a trace of Palestinians?
The loss of hope on the other side, the Israeli arrogance and the unwillingness to compromise are blowing up in our faces.
Neither the children who hitchhike nor the incitement in the Palestinian Authority or the establishment of the unity government are to blame. This situation was created by whoever chose to ignore the Palestinian problem and let the void and frustration raise their head.
Israel must do everything in its power to rescue the teens and bring them home, in a military operation if possible or in a painful deal if there is no other way out. But on the day after, Israel must return to the same decision-making crossroad and ask itself what chance and what future does the Israeli presence in the heart of the territories have.
Without making a drastic change of reality on the ground and restarting the peace process, the stage will be left to the terror organizations, and the next attacks will only be a matter of time.
Yariv Oppenheimer is the secretary-general of the Peace Now movement.