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Conflict in the Occupied Territories

March 12, 1988

In your excellent editorial "Dogged Pursuit of Peace" (March 4) you correctly describe Secretary of State George Shultz's mission to bring about change in the Middle East as "the best chance for some time to come." It is tragic that Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir of Israel and his supporters remain unwilling to accept his proposals to trade some occupied territory for peace. Israel accepted the principle of partition 40 years ago, as Israel's former foreign minister, Abba Eban, noted last November in the Jerusalem Post. Then, it was the Palestinians and the Arab states who rejected a Palestinian state side by side with Israel, and began a war to throw Israel into the sea; a war that has lasted four decades.

Israel's survival remains threatened as long as this war continues. As a nation and a people, it has a right to refuse to accept terms and conditions that could lead to its destruction. On the other hand, the costs of occupying the West Bank and Gaza also endanger that survival. These costs are a cancer eating away at its soul. It has caused uprising and hate among the Palestinians. This will not disappear. It brutalizes the young men of the Israeli Defense Force charged with keeping order.

A substantial number of Israelis do recognize the dangers to themselves inherent in the continued occupation. Led by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, they support America's efforts. But it is tragic that few if any Palestinian Arabs will speak up for peace without insisting on preconditions which threaten the security and existence of Israel.

The danger is that in the end, if there is no peaceful resolution, both sides will destroy themselves in the struggle. There will be no victors; only the death of dreams.

ALEXANDER CLONER

Palm Springs

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