If the Palestinians could produce a leader with the political vision of Nelson Mandela, they would have a state. Mandela understood the most fundamental lesson of democratic politics: political reality requires not just compromise but also conciliation.
To date, the Palestinians have not been able to surface a leader who would be willing to be known as the Palestinian who compromised the right of return, or as the Muslim who was willing to find a path to conciliation with a Jewish presence in Jerusalem.
They have not been able to produce a leader who could break free of the shackles of decades of their own incitement.
At Camp David, Yasser Arafat walked away from 95 percent of what he asked for, and told a dismayed President Clinton that the Jews never had a historic presence in the land. In recent days, this fiction has been repeated by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. It is the official Palestinian revisionist history of the region.
At Taba, in 2001, Abbas was offered an even slightly better deal than Arafat was offered at Camp David, and did what the Palestinians have been doing since the Arab League had created the three noes of Khartoum: no negotiations, no recognition, no peace. He said, no.
President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel has now changed the dynamic of the moribund negotiations process that were largely rituals in which the Palestinians engaged because of a mixture of external pressure and inducements. He has also struck a blow against the mythical narrative the Palestinians have created to deny the legitimacy of a Jewish presence in a Jewish land.