Maybe it's time to inscribe it high on the walls of Jerusalem. I'm talking about that old Abba Eban line :"The Arabs never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity".
Here's Israel's right-wing prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, admittedly responding to pressure from Washington but finally admitting in public that he believes the best solution to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict lies in establishing two independent states in the Holy Land: the existing Jewish one and a new, sovereign but demilitarized Palestinian Arab state on the West Bank , eventually joined to the Gaza Strip. Let's sit down and negotiate, says Bibi. Let's co-exist in peace..
So what do the Palestianians and other Arabs do? They rant and rave and summarily reject his proposals. . "Netanyahu's speech was very clear" insists chief Palestinian negotiator, Saeb Erekat . "He rejects the two-state solution."
As they say on Saturday Night Live, "Really ? Did he? I don't think so!"
So just what do the Palestinians -- who have rejected every Palestinian partition/peace plan ever offered them since the 1920s-- object to now?
For starters, like the vast majority of the Mideast's Arabs, the Palestinians still steadfastly refuse to accept the very idea of a Jewish state in the Middle East. As Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek put it, "Netanyahu's demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state is ruining the chance for peace."
Excuse me - what do Mubarek and the rest of the Arabs think Israel is?
It was dreamed of, conceived of and built to be a Jewish state. "The right to establish our sovereign state here...", Netanyahu said in his speech, "arises from one simple fact: the Land of Israel is the birthplace of the Jewish people."
What's more, it's not a new idea. It was clearly defined by Israel's founding fathers in their May 14, 1948 Tel Aviv declaration of independance . "We hereby declare the establishment of a Jewish state in the Land of Israel, to be known as the State of Israel".
That's what it says in black and white (or blue and white). Since then, more than 160 nations in the world (including Egypt and Jordan) have recognized this Jewish state of Israel and/or established diplomatic ties with it. And the Jewish State of Israel has been a member of the United Nations since 1949.
Palestinians will argue that their adamant refusal to admit the obvious is more than just stubborn ideology. As they see it, by recognizing a "Jewish state" the Palestinians negate any "right of return" for the families of 600,000 or so Palestinian refugees who fled ifrom what is now Israel in 1948.
Yes and no. Fact is, most of the Palestinian Arabs who actually fled 62 years ago are either old or deceased. And clearly Israel will never agree to allowing untold millions of their descendants to be "repatriated" to Israel proper, thus totally demolishing Israel's demographic balance and destroying the Jewish nature of the Jewish state - which, just by chance, happens to remain the ultimate Arab goal.
That doesn't mean that many of these remaining refugees and their descendants can't be repatriated to the future Palestinian state - just as most of the 800,000 Jews who fled Arab lands between 1947 and 1967, leaving everything they owned behind, have been resettled in the Jewish state. Nor is there any reason why mutual compensation agreements can not be worked out for lands and property lost by both sides.
The bottom line is that the Arab world must settle the bulk of this nagging refugee problem within the Arab world - not in Israel whose total land mass of 12,877 square miles remains a tiny fraction of the 8,368,272 square miles that comprise the 21 Arab countries surrounding the Jewish state.
Let's face it. Why has every major post war refugee problem in the world been settled except for the Palestinian one? You know the reason: the Arab states have never wanted to settle it. With the exception of Jordan, no single Arab state has ever offered citizenship to Palestinian Arabs, preferring instead to maintain them as political fodder, locked in refugee camps, surviving on the international dole and the political wet dream of destroying the Jewish state..
The other excuse the Palestinians give for their refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state is that it will somehow weaken the standing of that 20% of Israel's population that is not Jewish but Israeli-Arab. These are the descendants of those Palestinian Arabs who wisely chose not to run in 1948. They already know - even if many of them don't always like it - that Israel is a Jewish state. They also know that while their growing minority has not always enjoyed full equality with its Jewish compatriots, Israeli Arab citizens of the Jewish state - Christian and Muslim - still enjoy more benefits, more democracy and more freedom than Arabs anywhere else in the Middle East.
Here's something else to mull over. Arab Christian populations are rapidly shrinking throughout the region - the Christian population of Bethlehem has gone from 90% to less than 25%; in Lebanon it has dropped from 60% to 27% . The only place in the Middle East where Christian Arab communities are expanding is in the Jewish state of Israel where since 1949, the year after Israel's birth, the number of Israeli Arab Christians has grown by an astonishing 345%!
Palestinian nay sayers also complain that Netanyahu's insistence that Jerusalem will not be re-divided is another monumental block to peace. Yet it has been only under Israeli control that the Holy City developed and became open to worshipers of all faiths - Jewish, Christian and Muslim. Nor should Israel's insistence that a Palestinian state be demilitarized stand in the way. Internal Palestinian violence is growing. Besides, what should Israel do - allow the West Bank to be turned into the same kind of rocket launching pad for Palestinian terrorist groups that Gaza became when Israel voluntarily withdrew from that benighted territory?
President Obama twisted Netanyah's arm enough to produce Sunday's two-state acceptance speech. Now's the time for the administration to start twisting Palestinian arms -- before they and we miss another opportunity.