Israel has been seeking an end to the conflict with the Palestinians for more than half a century and is now prepared to accept the creation of a Palestinian state beside Israel as part of a negotiated solution that ends the conflict. A "provisional" state would not end the conflict because it would leave Palestinian demands unresolved and not require the Palestinians to make peace with Israel.
By offering the Palestinians statehood at this time, they will be rewarded for a two-year reign of terror and be given reason to believe that they can win greater concessions by continuing to attack Israeli civilians.
Terrorist organizations such as Hamas and Islamic Jihad have made clear their goal is not the creation of a democratic Palestinian state, it is the establishment of an Islamic state and the destruction of the democratic nation of Israel. A provisional state satisfies neither of their goals.
The Oslo accord set clear criteria for progress toward Palestinian independence. The main premise of that agreement, signed by Yasser Arafat, was the Palestinian commitment to provide security and prevent terrorism. Fulfilment of that obligation is a precondition to any political progress. If the Bush Administration chooses not to require this fundamental step, it will end up rewarding the current Palestinian policy of violating all the signed political agreements in the hope that terror will achieve the goals they cannot win through negotiations.
If the United States recognizes a provisional Palestinian state, the Palestinians will see no reason to negotiate with Israel and will look to the Bush Administration to impose their demands.
By granting even limited statehood, the U.S. will make it virtually impossible for Israel to search out bomb factories, arrest terrorist leaders, and take other vial counterterror measures needed to protect Israeli civilians.
Rather than spend the last nine years since the Oslo agreements were signed building the structure of a state, the Palestinians have created a terror state that is universally regarded as so corrupt that it must start almost from scratch with new elections and institutions that are accountable and transparent.
Any movement toward recognition of Palestinian independence must be accompanied by mechanisms to insure the security of Israel, to acknowledge the rights of Jews living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and to end the outside support by Arab states for terror organizations in the PA.
The Palestinians themselves are already expressing dissatisfaction with the idea of a provisional state, showing that they remain unwilling to accept any compromise and will accept nothing less than a Palestinian state replacing Israel instead of the one Israel has offered beside it.
One of the shortfalls of the Oslo process was that it created timetables that raised Palestinian expectations for progress toward the establishment of a state without requiring them to fulfill their obligations first. This mistake would be repeated if the Palestinians were promised statehood without being first required to meet the commitments they made at Oslo nine years ago, including ending terror and incitement, confiscating illegal weapons, and negotiating all disputes.
The United States has never succeeded by imposing a peace plan on the parties, agreements are only possible by their mutual consent.
The United States should consult with its ally Israel before proposing any change in the status quo, and resist Arab pressure to present a plan that does not have Israel's assent.