(...) The mainstream Palestinian leadership in Ramallah has staked its future on a two-state agreement and an end to the occupation. Through the Arab Peace Initiative, the rest of the Arab world signaled unanimously that an Israeli-Palestinian final status agreement would also mean normalization between Israel and the Arab states. Plainly, most Palestinians, other Arabs and their governments would welcome an end to this destabilizing conflict.
It is frequently alleged that a core barrier to peace is the Palestinian refusal to recognize Israel. But the Palestine Liberation Organization—the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people—did, in fact, formally recognize Israel in 1993. Israel, in return, only recognized the PLO as the representative of the Palestinian people. Israel has never recognized a Palestinian state, or, in any formal manner, the Palestinian right to statehood.
Moreover, the Palestinian Authority has engaged in unprecedented security cooperation with occupation forces in recent years. Joint efforts to thwart attacks against Israelis, intelligence sharing and coordination in confronting militants have all persisted despite the breakdown of negotiations and at tremendous political cost to the PA.
Israeli security officials acknowledge that the Palestinian security cooperation and performance have been excellent. Attacks against Israelis in Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank have fallen to virtually zero.
But this security cooperation is frequently ignored and emphasis instead placed on the actions of militants in Gaza. The PA has not been able to contain the Gazan violence because Hamas runs Gaza. The PA lost control of Gaza for several reasons: its own miscalculations; Israel's refusal to allow the PA to develop elite counterterrorism forces; and insufficient support from half-hearted patrons like the United States (Hamas's patrons lavished enormous support on it). But most importantly, groups like Hamas need the absence of peace to thrive, even in Gaza.
The above article was published in thedailybeast.com on April 2nd, 2012 (5:05 p.m. EDT).