Oh, I agree. But, technically, Israel took the offense, not defense.
"Why don't they tell their terrorists to lay down their guns for a few months, take Israel's offer and work on building a viable state, instead of targetting innocent civilians?"
Israeli civilians started moving into the territories right after the '67 war. When did the Palestinian start their intifada -- 1987? 20 years after the occupation?
Seems to me their patience ran out.
"but the Palestinians have hardly shown that they've bargained in good faith over the years."
True. Neither side has (witness the wall -- excuse me, the "fence").
The PA (Palestinian Authorty) and the Fatah movement were started BEFORE the war of 1967. I think they were started in either '62 or '63 bubt I am not sure.
They were planning to take PALESTINE back, before any Israeli even set foot in the West Bank, which was then Jordan.
And the wall is a lifesaver. If you think there are less attempted attacks now, think again. Its remained pretty constant (on the plus side it hasnt gone up, the wall has made it go slightly down) but FAR LESS get through. On a more personal note, several relatives of mine owe their lives to that wall.
Furthermore, Barak was willing to give up all of what the Palestinians are asking for now, or were asking for at Oslo. Why didn't they take it then? They rejected his offer and started the second intifada shortly afterwards.
I can see where you're coming from, though. Its a messy conflict. But, just like in Taiwan vs. China, I'd rather give my suppport (tentatively and conditionally) to the proven democracy. There are Muslims in the Knesset. How many Jews in the PA? How many Jews in Jordan/Syria/insert any other Muslim country except for Iran here? At the same time, I don't wholly approve of all Israel's tactics (the assassinations, for example, are very effective, but very morally questionable to me). However, Israel has at least bargained in good faith at numerous points throughout its history with the palestinians, even though I agree they aren't exactly doing so now. The palestinians have never done it even once (look what came out of Oslo, for example).
Still, though, its a nasty conflict. I really hope both sides find peace.