I am beginning to feel hopeful about the so called peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. For the first time the real issue is on the table. The whole conflict isn't about borders or settlements or anything like that. It is about the legitimacy of Israels sovereignty in any part of what was once called Palestine. The Arabs seem to agree on a certain narrative. They see the Jews as outsiders, as Europeans who because of their persecution in Europe came to Palestine and stole the Arabs' country. If one sees the Jewish presence as a kind of colonialism it would be an injustice to acquiesce to its existence. Thus groups like the Hamas are opposed to negotiations while more "moderate" groups look at negotiations as mere ways of obtaining advantage for future conflicts.
You therefore hear statements such as those made by Helen Thomas saying that the Jews ought to go back to Poland or wherever else they came from and leave the Palestinians alone, or those of a Gazan interviewed on TV who said that the Jews indeed have a right to their own country but that it should be in Europe.
When Netanyahu raises the issue of recognition of Israel as a Jewish state that is precisely the issue being addressed. If the Palestinians are willing to concede this point the road is perhaps open to solve the other issues. If they cannot admit that the Jewish presence in what they call Palestine is rightful the conflict cannot and should not end. Yesterday I read that Palestinian schools were introducing textbooks that put together by a Swedish group that presented both the Israeli and the Arab view of the conflict. That is the most encouraging thing I've heard regarding peace in a long time.