The senior Israeli official noted that while Israel has lived up to its obligations and commitments -- especially when it has come to relinquishing land taken from enemies who launched attacks from that land, and who would do so again if they get it back -- the Palestinian side has not. Does this not beg the question as to why any future promises should be believed when every previous promise has been broken?
Yes, for 60 years, Arab leaders have been captured by their own propaganda, as one member of the Israeli delegation told me. So how do you reverse that, I asked, and when can the world expect to see them stop publishing textbooks, delivering sermons and printing cartoons in state-owned newspapers that equate Jews with pigs and monkeys and call for their destruction? He couldn't say.
If there is to be a Palestinian state, what kind of state will it be? Would it be allowed to have an army, or a "police force" that would effectively serve as an army? Surely Israel could not stand for another armed force in its neighborhood. Would a Palestinian state be permitted to have an airport and overland access to countries that might supply it with terrorists and weapons?
A recent Washington Times editorial put it well: "The Obama administration should focus less on creating a Palestinian state and more on helping Palestinians earn the right to statehood." That is exactly the right order.
In 1996, Netanyahu came to Washington for the first time as prime minister to meet with President Clinton. I recall him warning the Clinton administration that the greatest threat facing Israel is the arming of Iran with nuclear weapons. He was a prophet then and that prophecy is now on the verge of coming true.
In a rebuke to the president's commitment to diplomacy, Iran conducted a missile test within hours after Netanyahu left Washington for Israel. If Iran gets a nuclear bomb, everything will change in the Middle East. Whatever dim prospects for peace there may be will come unraveled. That's why stopping Iran's nuclear ambitions trumps a Palestinian state and everything else.