Sixty-four years after the United Nations voted to partition Palestine into separate Jewish and Arab entities, a two-state solution appears nearly as remote a possibility as it did when the Arab world rejected it the first time around.
On Nov. 29, 1947, the U.N. General Assembly voted 33-13 in favor of partition, with 10 members abstaining. The move, celebrated by Jews worldwide as the first step toward the fulfillment of the Zionist dream, set the stage for the establishment of the State of Israel six months later.
But we all know what happened next: The Arab world, instead of embracing the compromise that the Jews accepted, embarked on a path of war, terror and continued rejectionism. Today the Palestinians, instead of enjoying the fruits of what could have been their own state, continue to be mired in ideological rivalries and destructive pursuits.
Despite the presumed acceptance of the principle of a two-state solution by most Israelis and some Palestinians, Israel finds itself in an increasingly precarious situation. Continued Palestinian intransigence, the uncertain aftermath of the "Arab Spring," and the Obama administration's failed policies in the region have left the long-dormant peace process in shambles.
Now comes news that the rival Fatah and Hamas factions are resuming their reconciliation talks and are setting a date in May to hold new elections. It's far from clear that despite such declarations, the parties will overcome their internal disputes to even get to elections. Still, the prospect that Hamas, which continues to seek Israel's destruction, could emerge victorious, as it did the last time the Palestinians went to the polls in 2006, is more than frightening.
Emboldened by its recent success at securing the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners in exchange for captured soldier Gilad Shalit — not to mention the ascendancy of its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt — Hamas would like nothing better than to extend its Islamist grip beyond the Gaza Strip.
It's hard to see how any good could come from new elections, especially if they increase the legitimization and power of Hamas.
More than six decades after the Arab rejection of the Partition Plan, the Palestinians once again face a critical choice. Do they follow on the path begun by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, whose willingness to crack down on terror has led to economic development, security and the rule of law; or do they throw that all away and further embrace Hamas and its terrorist fundamentalism?
The course the Palestinians choose in the next few months will go far in determining their own future.
Israel, meanwhile, will continue to celebrate Nov. 29 and flourish as a proud and independent Jewish state, missing only — and critically — the peace and security it desperately seeks.