They could have thrived. They could have chosen a path of reconciliation. But their history is full of mistakes that have taken them from catastrophe to catastrophe. They insist on not learning the lessons of the past. Once it was the Nazi Mufti, Haj Amin Al-Husseini, who led them to the Nakba. Today, it is Hamas and Raed Salah who are leading them down a similar path. A path that includes more incitement, more hate, and more bloodshed.
Thousands of Jews paid with their lives so that Israel could overcome difficulties and become a strong, successful, and thriving state. But at the end of every wave of violence, Israel somehow becomes even stronger. The Israel that emerged from the first intifada was much stronger than the country that entered the conflict.The Israel of 2005, after the intifada, became stronger than that of 1995. And the Israel of 2015 is stronger than it was in 2005.
And what happened to the Palestinians? They have become weaker. During the two decades that followed the War of Independence in 1948, Arab regimes ruled in Gaza and the West Bank. They didn’t establish a state, and did nothing for themselves.
They never held Al-Aqsa as their primary source of joy and pride. The mosque was of marginal importance and physical disrepair, like it had been during most of the Islamic history. But then Israel came into the picture, and Al-Aqsa blossomed under occupation.
It's true; it's not nice to say it, because its "colonialist," but the occupation has mostly done the Palestinians good. Without it, they would have remained under oppressive Egyptian and Jordanian regimes. This doesn’t mean the occupation is good. At the moment it is bad for Israel. It serves as a weapon against Israel.
But what about the Palestinians? The day Israel ends its occupation, there will be a greater chance that the Palestinians will become "Southern Syria," as they once requested, and a site of bloody conflict between rival faction, rather than a center of growth and success.
There is no point in being addicted to fantasies; peace is not on the horizon. The Palestinians are unable to find peace in and among themselves, and are divided between two entities, and further divided into factions that typically communicate through the use of weapons.
So how can we possibly make peace with them? Let's assume that Netanyahu offers up the Clinton plan, the Geneva outlines, or the Olmert plan – and I can only hope he would – but the reply is known in advance. We have seen signs of change here and there, with Palestinians who agreed to fair solutions, without a mass-scale right of return, but they have always recanted in the end.
But does that mean we should lose hope? Does that mean that there is no way out? Far from it.
The fact that the left is wrong does not make the right wing correct. Smart and serious people such as Amos Yadlin, Prof. Shlomo Avinri, Giora Island and others have brought forward new proposals that are not buried in the left's fantasies or the right wing's hallucinations. The proposals involved an Israeli willingness to compromise, and steps that would lead to division, and reduced points of friction, without giving up security control. All in order to prevent the West Bank from turning into the Gaza Strip.
The fact that there is currently no partner on the other side does not mean we should lose hope. Ben-Gurion's wisdom was that he always, always extended his hand in peace. Israel must prove to the world that it wants peace. Anyone who belittles the role or the importance of the international community does not understand the world we currently live in, and that they themselves are in fact helping the anti-Israel campaign.
The moment Israel claims that EU funding is paying for the Palestinian Authority's incitement to terror, people listen, but when it authorizes four illegal outposts to house hooligans and troublemakers at the same time, no one takes its claim's seriously.
It's true that the Palestinians have rejected "two states for two peoples." It's also true that incitement has engulfed Palestinian society, and that at the end of the day they want one big state. But does this mean that Israel needs to fall into their trap?