The Great British statesman Edmund Burke once said, “Hypocrisy can afford to be magnificent in its promises, for never intending to go beyond promise, it costs nothing.” The Palestinians and Syrians are being taught by the international community that their hypocrisy and inflexibility is costing them absolutely nothing. They reject every gesture and demand ever more concessions. In fact, the Palestinians and the Syrians, along with their cohorts in such institutions like the so-called United Nations Human Rights Council, have demonstrated only contempt for the international community. The Goldstone Commission is a classic example.By their own admission, the initiative was created by the Organization of Islamic Conference and was passed in the United Nations General Assembly by such serial human-rights abusers as Sudan, North Korea, Zimbabwe, Cuba and Saudi Arabia. Even though few Western nations endorsed the commission and its findings because of its unprofessionalism and rampant bias, there remain the constant attacks on Israel’s right to self-defense against murderous terror. This again reveals to our neighbors the zero cost of their actions and enables them to become even more extreme and violent.The Palestinian Authority continues to glorify murder by dedicating public squares and streets in memory of terrorists responsible for the killing of hundreds of innocent people including foreign nationals. The street on which the new government compound is being built is named after Yihye Ayyash, the chief Palestinian bomb maker who perfected suicide bombing. Last month, in the presence of senior Palestinian officials, a public square was named after Dalal Mughrabi, a female terrorist responsible for the cold-blooded murder of 37 innocent civilians, including 12 children. THE INTERNATIONAL stance towards Syria is even more disturbing. Despite US appeals to Syria to distance itself from Iran, President Bashar Assad recently hosted President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and Iranian proxies Hizbullah’s Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah and Hamas’s Khaled Mashaal in Damascus. During the summit, Assad announced that Syria’s long-standing alliance with Teheran will be strengthened. Most disturbingly, Syria and Iran, as declared this week by US Defense Secretary Robert Gates, “are providing Hizbullah with rockets and missiles of ever-increasing capabilities. Hizbullah has far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world.”Furthermore, at the recent Arab League summit in Libya, Assad fully supported Palestinian terrorism “without reluctance or shyness” regarding it as the [ultimate] “solution.” The world’s silence further undermines the trust and confidence of the Israeli public as to the viability of peace and the commitment of the international community to a fair and balanced process that will further peace and stability in the Middle East. This silence is reminiscent of Western behavior on the eve of World War II.In 1925, France and Czechoslovakia signed a Treaty of Mutual Assistance, aimed at deterring Germany. In 1938, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain sought to appease German aggression by pressing Czechoslovkia to concede the Sudetenland to the Nazis. Chamberlain tried to justify the claims by the Sudeten Germans to rejoin Germany and blamed Czech Prime Minister Edvard Benes for his hard-line approach and his unwillingness to compromise for peace. He then demanded that a British mediator be appointed who subsequently forced a solution on Czechoslovakia. Britain and France issued an ultimatum, threatening to withdraw the French commitment to the Franco-Czech defense treaty. In September 1938, Czechoslovakia had no option but to capitulate to the demands of London and Paris. In March 1939, Nazi soldiers entered Prague. As is well known, Hitler’s aspirations did not end with Czechoslovakia, and the entire world paid a terrible price in tens of millions of lives for appeasing Hitler and enforcing an artificial peace. ISRAEL WILL not become another Czechoslovakia and will not succumb to international pressure to compromise its vital interests. On the eve of the start of proximity talks between Israel and thePalestinians, it is important to remind the international communitythat the State of Israel has proven time and again that it is preparedto pay a high price for peace with its neighbors. Since the peace agreement with Egypt in 1979, Israel has withdrawn from territory three times its current size. Asopposed to the narrative of the international community, thesettlements have never been an obstacle to peace. On the contrary, theunilateral disengagement from Gush Katif, in which thousands of Jewswere evacuated and dozens of communities were destroyed, only yieldedincreasing Kassam rockets and an extremist Hamas government. Therefore,real peace cannot be legislated or imposed from the outside; it canonly be achieved through direct negotiations between the parties whiledeveloping mutual trust between them. The writer is the minister of foreign affairs and deputy prime minister.