Why Middle East Peace is Elusive

Hardly a day goes by without some news regarding the search for Middle East peace. The fact is, however, the existence of Israel since 1948 has created an unacceptable situation for Muslims in general and for Muslim Palestinians in particular. Why is this so?

Muslims believe that any land occupied by them -- or formerly occupied by them -- is perpetually Islamic. This is why Muslim forces have tried to eliminate Israel by means of three major wars in 1948-49, 1967 and 1973 -- not to mention several minor conflicts. Any talk of peace, therefore, is superfluous since Muslims will never tolerate the existence of Israel. Every Palestinian political organization -- the PLO, Hamas, Islamic Jihad etc. -- has the express purpose of Israel's extermination in its original charter. This is not exactly conducive to peace talks.

As a consequence, conflicts over Israeli construction in Jerusalem -- or anywhere in the West Bank -- must be seen in light of the above. Palestinians are not ultimately interested in Jerusalem or West Bank construction. The fact is they would never be satisfied even if Palestine became a sovereign state -- the goal of both UN and US policy. They want nothing less than the whole thing -- every square meter of Israeli territory -- and there will be no Middle East peace unless this is accomplished.

So what we have is an intractable conflict with both sides claiming the same territory. History favors Israel, however. As PM Benyamin Netanyahu wisely observed, Jews were building in Jerusalem 1600 years before Islam ever existed.