The Palestinian issue lies at the heart of the Arab - Israeli conflict, which has been going on for decades. The Madrid conference offered a historic opportunity for arriving at a just and lasting peace in the Middle East, based on international legitimacy and the principle of land for peace. Yet, after 11 years of negotiations, peace is still not in place. The Palestinian National Authority has now full control over 18.2 % of the West Bank and 74 % of the Gaza Strip. These areas are not contiguous. At the same time, Israel is continuing its colonization activities in the West Bank and Gaza. This will not only affect the outcome of the final status negotiations, but will render a future sustainable Palestinian entity unattainable and, more immediately, cause intolerable hardship and suffering.