By Richard Ferrer, editor Jewish News

There have been so many false starts between Israel and the Palestinians that, today, only the historically ignorant can believe peace is still possible.

No great shakes: Rabin, Clinton and Arafat on the White House lawn in September 1993.

No great shakes: Rabin, Clinton and Arafat on the White House lawn in September 1993.

From the Lausanne Conference in 1949 to the current virtual diplomatic jostling by US Secretary of State John Kerry, both sides have endured year upon year of disappointment and division.

Of all these false starts Oslo was, perhaps, the most tragic – the Olympics of missed opportunities.

The glow of mutual respect kindled on the White House lawn on 13 September 1993 was extinguished long before it ever had a chance to ignite.

Today, 20 years and 1,600 murdered Israelis after Oslo, peace seems like wishful thinking more than an achievable ambition. Yitzhak Rabin and Bill Clinton’s optimism now seems inexcusably naïve.

Back then, they allowed themselves to dream the Palestinian Authority was ready and able to invest in coexistence. For the first time, amid a fanfare of goodwill gestures, two states seemed more than a foolish dream.

Today, we see the terrible truth.

Oslo led only to suicide bombers and the assassination of its  Israeli author. It led to terrorists viewing Israeli compromise as weakness and an excuse to increase the senseless slaughter.

Hamas’s raison d’être will always be Israel’s destruction while Iran, with its nuclear ambitions, still fails to recognise its existence.

Two decades after Oslo, the road to peace is the road to nowhere.

Wishful thinking has been replaced, perhaps irrevocably, by the cold hard fact that peace and progress are ambitions that have never been fully shared by both sides.