Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice must be either a masochist or a fool. On her recent sojourn to Jerusalem, she announced her intention “to try to help the parties (Israelis and Palestinians) come together to look at how they can move through the Roadmap” and stated that the Quartet – the U.S., EU, Russia, and the UN – will convene a Mideast strategy session early in February to discuss the matter.

There’s not a snowball’s chance in Gaza she can do it. Nearly six decades of American mediation have registered only one lasting success – the 1979 treaty between Egypt and Israel – but that agreement was only made possible by the courage of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who became the first Arab leader to visit Israel. Nevertheless, in the tradition of uncompromising believers everywhere, Washington continues to reject all evidence that its faith in diplomacy might be misplaced. In returning to the Middle East to revive the now defunct “Roadmap to Peace” and its theoretical quest to lay the foundations for an independent Palestinian State, Secretary Rice is living in fantasyland, at least until the fundamental nature of Palestinian society has changed.

In September 2005, former Israeli Prime Minister Sharon got tired of waiting for the Palestinians to carry out their end of the “Roadmap” (by dismantling the terrorist infrastructures on the West Bank and Gaza), so he decided to withdraw unilaterally from Gaza dismantling the Jewish communities in Gush Katif (communities that have now been turned into terrorist training camps) and relinquishing the region to Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, Fatah, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and a host of other sordid Islamic warlords who, at the moment, are more intent on killing each other than killing Israelis.

And who is to perform this miracle of “peace in our time?” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the erstwhile head of a failed non-state has already shown himself to be powerless to stop the chaos in his own land. His position concerning Israel has never changed and never will because of the nature of Palestinian society. He opposes a provisional Palestinian state and wants a final settlement based on the 1949 cease-fire lines, with four million Arab refugees having the right of return to 1949 Israel with Jerusalem as its capital – this from a man who cannot even obtain agreement from his own people on who the Palestinian government is and who it is not, and whether he or Hamas actually hold power. Abbas exercises little or no control over the democratically-elected murderers of Hamas and has lost much of his traditional power base in his own Fatah party. His Palestinian Authority has made no attempt to rein in its anti-Semitic propaganda, Palestinian mosques continue to extol the virtues of martyrdom, fully two-thirds of Palestinians (according to a recent poll) continue to see violence against Israel as a justified act of ‘resistance’, and Palestinian rockets continue to rein down on southern Israel – all of which represent a rather pathetic picture of Palestinian society as a whole.

A society that fails to discipline its foot soldiers after they decapitate an Israeli reservist and use his head as a soccer ball, that routinely allows alleged Israeli ‘collaborators’ to be dragged from their homes and shot in front of their families, that throws candies into the air to celebrate the murder of Israeli civilians, that mourns the death of the butcher of Baghdad and that extols the virtues of ‘martyrdom’ in its classrooms, marketplaces, billboards, video games and summer camps – such a society has a pathological problem that cannot be rectified through negotiations and roundtable discussions. So one can justifiably ask what Israel could possibly offer Hamas and Hezbollah other than its own national suicide? If Israel faces a missile threat along its border with Gaza as well as one on its border with Lebanon, should it then allow a third front to be created along its much longer border with the West Bank? The Quartet is certain to recommend such madness.

Palestinian Arabs need the rule of law before they can consider a settlement with Israel. Unless and until that happens, any negotiated agreement would be tantamount to a suicide pact. Yet the international community (in general) and America (in particular) have absolutely no qualms about telling Israel what is best for its security. Hamas is an international outlaw that seeks the destruction of a sovereign nation, respects neither the borders between states nor the international system that created them, so what’s the point of seeking common ground with enemies dedicated to your annihilation? America does not negotiate with terrorists that seek its destruction, yet Secretary Rice asks the Israelis to do so and the Iraq Study Group recommends such action as the panacea for resolving all the problems of the Middle East.

Unfortunately, the only resolution to this conflict will come when the Palestinian culture of death has been expunged from Palestinian society, when Palestinians come to value the lives of their children more than Paradise, and when the hopes and dreams for a better tomorrow are not built upon a foundation of hate, but on a reconstructed society that is prepared to educate its children on subjects other than ‘martyrdom.’ Like it or not, existential wars such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be won or lost; all else is a band-aid solution that will only lead to greater death and hardship in future. The ‘issue’ between Israelis and Palestinians cannot be resolved through the imaginary power of negotiations any more than Churchill could have negotiated a resolution of the ‘problem’ with Nazi Germany or Lincoln with a recalcitrant Jefferson Davis on the future of southern slavery.

Secretary Rice is wasting her time and the administration in seeking $98 million in funding for Palestinian security forces that it knows to be corrupt and compromised by involvement in terrorism is betraying President Bush’s freedom agenda by giving a free pass to dictators who support the new Sunni alliance against Iranian ambitions. Both President Bush and Secretary Rice have said emphatically that such trade-offs during the Cold War helped sow the seeds of al-Qaeda so this latest initiative is not only a fool’s errand, but a betrayal of Israel for geopolitical reasons.

Only Israelis and Palestinians can resolve their ‘problem’ and, in all probability, ‘this problem’ will not be resolved in accordance with Marquis of Queensberry Rules. These “why can’t we all just get along” parleys have about as much chance of bringing peace to the region as a rabbi has of being elected Prime Minister of Iran. Israelis and Palestinians are not going to agree on anything of substance until a great deal more blood has been shed. Those who proclaim today that the only real solution to the Arab dilemma is political freedom are correct. The problem with the concept is that they are describing a process that could take several bloody decades to achieve.* That is because the window for peace between Israel and the Palestinians has now closed. When both sides have reached the end of the game, that’s when the Roadmap for Peace will become a realistic expectation. Until then, American and Quartet intervention to ‘resolve the Israeli-Palestinian problem’ will only facilitate the dismemberment and destruction of Israel.

*It took over four centuries for what we term ‘democracy’ to evolve in England from the introduction of the Magna Carta under King John (1215) to the Glorious Revolution (1688) when a durable constitutional monarchy with Parliament as the nation’s supreme law-making body was established. The task of reforming Parliament itself into a broadly representative, democratic institution took another century.