Hanan Ashrawi ("A Moment Lost," Commentary, June 12) tries mightily to spin the current outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas as Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's mistake.
Please explain to me how Sharon and the Israeli government are supposed to react when, after they reach an accord with Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, Hamas and the other Palestinian murdering hordes of terrorists publicly declare that their aggression will continue unabated? If Ashrawi truly believed in making peace with the Israelis, she should be publicly expressing regret that Hamas leader Abdulaziz Rantisi escaped death.
No matter how hard she tries, Ashrawi can never erase the reality that it is the desire of most Arabs that Israel cease to exist and that the Jews be removed from what they perceive as Arab land. The "road map" to peace will work only if Arabs and Israelis stop attacking each other, but it must include the 100% dismantling of these illegal groups hellbent on destroying Israel and any possibility for peace. If dismantling requires Israel to take out the leaders of these groups, both sides are better off. Hamas and the other groups have no legitimate place in the future of the region if their sole reason for existence is to inflict bloodshed on Israel.
The Palestinian people need to have an Israel-Palestinian final agreement, vote on it and give Abbas the mandate to outlaw any group that does not recognize and support the agreement. President Bush, with the support of the quartet and the Arab leaders, needs to exercise pressure on both sides to negotiate under fire until they reach a final agreement. This agreement will be the destination point for the "road map." A road map without a well-defined destination will lead nowhere.
The road map calls for Abbas to disarm terrorists and dismantle the terrorist infrastructure. Instead, he enters into negotiations for a cease-fire with the notorious terrorist group Hamas. Hamas refuses even that and announces that it will step up attacks against Israelis. Abbas refuses to take any action against Hamas. Israel attempts a pinpoint strike against a Hamas leader who called for continued terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians. Israel is condemned. What is wrong with this picture?
One of the major combatants in this never-ending conflict is not present at the negotiating table -- the Palestinian "terrorists." We unrealistically expect Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat, Abbas or both to represent the Palestinians while aware they are noncombatants and that neither has ever demonstrated lasting power over the minds of the Palestinian people.
It is the terrorists who must be brought to the table. In the eyes of everyday Palestinians who yearn for nationhood, the terrorists are the heroes who have placed their bodies in danger for the sake of their still-unborn nation. Surely Bush and Secretary of State Colin Powell can understand this simple attitude. It takes those who make conflict to make peace.
The term "occupied territory" should be called "land lost by Arab fighting." When Israel was created, the Arabs chose to fight rather than build their own state. The occupied territory is simply land they lost when they were trying to destroy Israel.
Should people who attempt to destroy a country be due the land they lost during their aggression? Even so, Israel is willing to give most of the land back -- if the Arabs simply stop fighting. I wonder exactly what part of the land the Arabs would have been willing to give to Israel, had they won.
Wendy Derovan (letter, June 11) describes Israeli settlers as "living peacefully in homes that they built and paid for."
Many settlers are not, in fact, "living peacefully." They are fully armed and do not hesitate to initiate unprovoked attacks on Palestinian and international civilians. As for who paid for their homes, the Israeli government has generously subsidized settlements, making it extremely attractive for settlers to continue to move onto Palestinian land.