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Occupation, Settlements Impede Mideast Peace

September 16, 2003

Re "Israel Should Never Again Negotiate Peace With Terrorists," Commentary, Sept. 12: Yossi Klein Halevi would like readers to believe that Israel supports a two-state solution and had, during the Oslo negotiations, offered the Palestinians a state of their own. Nonsense! Then-Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak's "generous" offer was to give back about 46% of the West Bank, divided into three noncontiguous cantons, with Israeli checkpoints at all the borders. No Israeli government has been willing to put a freeze on the ever-growing settlement project or even begin thinking seriously about dismantling any existing settlements.

The entire Palestinian homeland is now the state of Israel and Israeli-controlled occupied territory. The disinherited Palestinian people live in misery, humiliation and fear. The resistance will end only when the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem -- 22% of their rightful homeland -- are returned.

Steve Kowit

Potrero, Calif.

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Halevi suggests that the Oslo process ended in "the worst wave of terrorism in Israel's history." I seem to remember a post-Oslo interval when there was active cooperation between Israeli and Palestinian security forces, when terrorism was in decline. It was, albeit briefly, a time for optimism -- and a direct result of the Oslo meetings. Enter Benjamin Netanyahu as prime minister. Promising both peace and security, he delivered neither. After successor Barak's peace efforts succumbed to Yasser Arafat's intransigence, Sharon picked up where Netanyahu left off. That's when another quantum jump in the violence occurred, driven partly by Sharon's Temple Mount visit.

Halevi goes on to state that "so far, the Palestinian strategy has failed dismally. The result of Palestinian aggression has been the hardening of Israeli resolve." That's certainly the case. But his statement could be revised to read: So far, the Israeli strategy has failed dismally ... hardening Palestinian resolve. Finally, Halevi dismisses the "cycle of violence" characterization of the "current war." Yet attacks and counterattacks have followed one another, wave upon wave, with gruesome regularity. If this isn't cyclical, the word has no meaning.

Dick Lewis

Balboa

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I was greatly disturbed by Halevi's one-sided commentary. It seems that he completely forgot who the terrorists were who ended the Oslo process. So, let me remind him: It was an Israeli who assassinated then-Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin -- and that's terrorism by any name. Unfortunately, it was Rabin who also allowed for a huge increase of settlements on the West Bank while pursuing the Oslo process. That's like telling your negotiating partner that he will get his house back but, in the meantime, you move in your relatives. Mr. Halevi, let's be honest, there is plenty of blame to go around. Terrorism is not the monopoly of the Arabs.

Irwin Grossman

Los Angeles

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