In 1993's Oslo Accords, Israel acknowledged the PLO negotiating team as "representing the Palestinian people". In return, the PLO recognized Israel's right to exist in peace, and accepted UN Security Council Resolutions 242 (http://www.mideastweb.org/242.htm) and 338 (http://www.mideastweb.org/338.htm).
Two years later a right-wing Israeli extremist gunned down Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin following a peace rally in Tel Aviv. Rabin was widely viewed as the the one Israeli politician who seemed capable of bringing about a genuine peace. Then in 1996, as Israel prepared for elections that would pit Labour's Shimon Peres against Likud's Benjamin Netanyahu, Hamas embarked on a deadly terror spree throughout the country. Netanyahu subsequently came to power, and Oslo effectively ended as he increased the pace of illegal settlements on the West Bank. In 1996, the settlement population totaled 140,00. By June of 2009, the estimated total had grown to some 300,000. Since 1967, Israel has built 120 settlements and over 100 "outposts" (settlements by another name) on the West Bank.
Palestinians have been waiting for a viable solution to their plight since 1948. Arab leaders have offered lip service on their behalf when it's expedient to do so (though more often than not they choose to ignore the matter), and the world community has effectively abandoned the Palestinian people.
Is it any wonder then that President Mahmoud Abbas has stated his intention to seek recognition for a Palestinian state at the United Nations this week? If not now, when?
The United States has threatened to veto this effort (in addition to threatening economic sanctions and withdrawal of U.S. government funding from the U.N.), but President Abbas maintains that if Palestine is recognized by the international body he will resume negotiations with Israel over all the issues that divide the two sides. The difference would be that negotiations would now take place between two states, not one powerful state that holds all the cards and a supplicant begging for a few favors.
The impasse has lasted far too long already, and the settlements only continue to multiply. Why not do what's morally right and support a Palestinian state now? It's time for all of us to recognize they're people too, people with rights that include full sovereignty over the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem. Peace through justice... imagine that.