Palestinians Must End Incitement, Terrorism for Peace to Hold

Israelis are looking forward to the three-day visit of President George W. Bush -- his first visit to the country as president.

For days, newspapers have been filled with the details of the president’s arrival -- the massive security arrangements (more than 7,000 law enforcement officers have been diverted from their normal duties), the trial runs of the red-carpet reception, the politics of whom the president will meet with and whom he will not.

Israelis are excited about President Bush’s arrival; yet they are ambivalent, even outright skeptical that anything will be accomplished during this visit toward ensuring a true and lasting peace.

The president’s declared goal is to move along the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations jump-started in November at Annapolis. The average Israeli should have no problem with this laudable endeavor. For years opinion polls have shown that Israelis are supportive of a negotiated peace with the Palestinians and the establishment of a Palestinian state and are reconciled to the fact that difficult sacrifices will have to be made.

But these same opinion polls also increasingly show that Israelis do not believe the Palestinians -- leadership and people -- are committed to peace and reconciliation with the State of Israel. For Israelis, relations with the Palestinians come down to one key issue: Security. When asked whether the Palestinian Authority has the will or ability to clamp down on terrorists groups who have killed more than a thousand Israelis since the year 2000 and who continue to plot and operate, or to stop the deadly rockets raining down on southern Israel from Hamas-led Gaza, Israelis -- even those most committed to peace with the Palestinians -- say “no.