Speculating on Sen. George Mitchell’s laudable but futile efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement, Ron Bancroft’s May 24 column glossed over a pivotal event among countless past “peace conferences” in a way that was either naive or disingenuous: “Despite intense pressure, Yasser Arafat, the Palestine leader at the time, could not bring himself to accept the deal.”

Late in his presidency, Bill Clinton convened a conference with the late unmourned thug, Yasser Arafat, and then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak. Barak offered virtually everything Arafat had asked for except the partition of Jerusalem and acceptance of the so-called refugees.

With peace at hand and a Palestinian state within his grasp, Arafat, to the amazement of almost everybody, turned down this attractive offer.

Arafat then immediately launched his bloody “Intifada” — indiscriminate bombing of Israeli school buses, stores and restaurants — that cost thousands of lives and led to the Israelis building a protective wall to prevent further massacres. Arafat’s unwillingness to accept the Israeli offer goes to the heart of this never-ending conflict — the rigid intransigence of the Arabs to accept the reality of Israel.

Palestinian apologists dare not speak the obvious truth that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict could be resolved instantly if the Palestinians and their Iranian-backed proxies would utter these six simple words: “We will recognize the Jewish state.”

Addressing a joint session of the U.S. Congress on May 24 (an event that was not covered in the next day’s Press Herald), Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that Israel was willing to make “painful compromises” in exchange for recognition and defensible borders.

Surrounded by 300 million mostly hostile Arabs, how would Bancroft handle a situation where his next door neighbor is lobbing grenades into his yard and has pledged to annihilate his family while refusing to acknowledge he even exists?

Sen. Mitchell may have reasonably concluded that doing the same talking to closed minds in the expectation of a different result is insanity.