Repetition of failed experiments is not a sign of mental health or a path to scientific progress, nor is it a formula for Israeli-Palestinian peace. Yet that is the road we may again take, unless the lessons of the Bush years are learned.
As an official of the Bush administration I made three dozen visits to the Middle East in the last eight years, and in February, as Israelis voted, I made my first visit as a private citizen in nearly a decade. After lengthy discussions with Israelis and Palestinians, it seems to me obvious that it is time to face certain facts, facts that President Bush actually saw clearly during his first term: We are not on the verge of Israeli-Palestinian peace; a Palestinian state cannot come into being in the near future; and the focus should be on building the institutions that will allow for real Palestinian progress in the medium or longer term.
In a historic speech on June 24, 2002, President Bush said, "My vision is two states, living side by side, in peace and security." How were we to get there? He was specific:
There is simply no way to achieve that peace until all parties fight terror. Peace requires a new and different Palestinian leadership, so that a Palestinian state can be born. I call on the Palestinian people to elect new leaders, leaders not compromised by terror. I call upon them to build a practicing democracy based on tolerance and liberty.