Palestinians marked Tuesday as the day commemorating the Nakba, or “catastrophe,” by protesting in Israel, some throwing stones and Molotov cocktails in what has become an annual ritual of anger, frustration and violence. The real catastrophe is that the Palestinians continue to mourn the past and forfeit the future by refusing to acknowledge the present — the reality of the State of Israel and its right to exist.

The Nakba protests underscore the essential obstacle to peace, with Palestinians claiming that much of Israel has been “occupied” since 1948, and the rest since 1967, making all of the country illegitimate.

As noted by Palestinian Media Watch, children are taught that all of Israel is “occupied,” with schoolbooks describing “colonialism” as “the British occupation after the First World War in 1917, and the Israeli occupation in 1948.”

The catastrophe of the Palestinian people is that their leaders are grounded in victimhood, responding to repeated attempts at compromise and negotiation from Israel with defiance or violence, going back many decades. Surely the Palestinians would have had a state of their own today if they had leaders with the courage to tell them Israel is a country to be accommodated, not eradicated.

Today, there is little serious talk of renewed, meaningful negotiations. President Barack Obama, months away from elections, is not pressing the issue. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu calls for talks with no pre-conditions while Palestinian Authority President Abbas insists on another settlement freeze.

Perhaps the Israelis and Palestinians each believe time is on their side and the best strategy is to hold fast. But demographics do not remain static, and the possibility of a viable two-state solution diminishes with each passing day.

It is in Israel’s interest to push for progress, but none will come as long as Palestinians try to reclaim the past instead of ensuring a peaceful future.