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Facing the Refugee Issue in the Middle East

May 14, 2003

The first step in any peace process is the complete cessation of hostilities on both sides, so in this sense, Trude Feldman is correct when she argues that it takes two to wage peace (Opinion, May 11). However, the argument she puts forth is retrograde, if for no other reason than that the paragons of Israeli virtue she cites, Golda Meir and David Ben-Gurion, never intended to make peace with the Palestinians. Meir was the prime minister who famously said there was no "Palestinian people." Ben-Gurion's Zionism was informed by Vladimir Zev Jabotinsky's "iron wall" principle, which suggested only an "iron wall" solution with the Palestinians was possible, since coexistence could never be achieved.

The next major step in any genuine peace process requires both sides to take full responsibility. To date, Israel has never acknowledged its responsibility in the dislocation and expulsion of the Palestinians. Until that day arrives, Israel and its military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza will continue to enforce de facto apartheid over the two peoples.

Jordan Elgrably

Los Angeles

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The "road map" for Mideast peace calls for a discussion of the return of Arab refugees toward the end of the process. Israel wants to settle that issue now.

The prospect of settling 4 million hostile non-Israeli Arabs in Israel is such a nonstarter that no matter how far the process goes, that issue, and the issue of Jerusalem, has almost no chance of being resolved to the Palestinian Authority's satisfaction. Israel was once willing to discuss these matters. But the far-left liberals were drummed out of office when the Palestinians did not perform any quid pro quo they agreed to.

The kindest path is to try to settle the refugee and Jerusalem issues first, before building up the hopes of so many, only to see them dashed once again. Unless the Palestinian Authority is willing to do something it has never done before -- compromise -- there may not be a negotiable resolution to these issues.

Gary Dalin

Venice

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"Arabs Feel Let Down by Powell" (May 13) neglects to say why Israel closed the Gaza Strip "after Israel pledged to make humanitarian gestures to ease the plight of Palestinians." "Israel Blockades Gaza Amid Terror Alert" (May 13) reveals that "Israeli security sources said the closure was a response to heightened intelligence alerts regarding planned terror attacks."

Why is it only Israel that has to provide for Palestinian employment? Where are the Arabs who are so concerned about Palestinians living in refugee camps? Why don't they create industry and farmland for their brothers who sit idle? Why do Arafat's Fatah faction, Hamas and Islamic Jihad still operate out of Gaza? Does this not erode the peace process?

Marilyn Minkle

Tarzana

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