If British Prime Minister Tony Blair wants me and my family here in Israel to risk our lives in “confidence building gestures” to the Palestinian leadership he should look elsewhere. We are not dying to improve Mr. Blair’s re-election prospects.

But if the British, French, UN, Israeli Left, etc. really want to make a contribution to the development of a serious Palestinian post-Arafat leadership they should stop treating them as if they were savages leading an uncontrollable mob and instead show them respect by actually expecting proper behavior.

It is not acceptable for Palestinian leaders to call for a continuation of the intifada against Israel nor can Palestinian violence be tolerated.

It is not acceptable that illegal militias continue to operate.

And the list goes on.

Each time so-called friends of the Palestinians engage in apologetics instead of expecting and demanding Palestinian compliance they make it just that much more unlikely that the Palestinians will ever get their act together. After all, why should the Palestinian leadership take the heat for complying when compliance is not actually required – just verbiage and photo ops.

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon’s disengagement plan sends the same destructive message to the Palestinians: regardless of what the Palestinians do or don’ t do, Israel is going to retreat from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria next summer.

In the coming days the die will be cast. If the apologetics continue unabated the opportunity for a true change for the better will be lost.