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3-state solution is whose idea?

June 24, 2007

Re "History argues for a three-state solution," Opinion, June 20

Jacob Savage articulates Israel's position well: The "solution," he says, is "continued fighting between Israel and Gaza" while Israel walls off a few neighborhoods in the West Bank to control the rest of "the problem." Israel's "problem" is too many Palestinians, and the use of Gaza as a prison camp -- to excise a million and a half people -- has been a continuous project for many years. This project includes Israel's practice of "deporting" Palestinians from the West Bank to Gaza, in spite of Savage's claim that they are distinctly different cultures. (Both cultures elected Hamas, by the way.) Here we have Israel's fantasy very well put in one article: There are no Palestinians; the "bad" ones should be disposed of and the "good" ones can live in "Bantustan" and pay taxes to Israel without representation. And yes, he's right that it is "perverse logic" -- but ethnic cleansing requires that.

KAREN MALESKI

San Jose

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The idea of a three-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is appealing and may get some support, but seeing it as the best available option ignores several factors.

First, Fatah does not dominate the West Bank. It is stronger there than in the Gaza Strip, but, in the 2006 parliamentary elections, Hamas won 30 district seats in the West Bank while Fatah captured only 11.

Second, even Fatah leaders would be wary of the political repercussions of appearing to abandon the cause of the 1.5 million Palestinians who live in Gaza. Mahmoud Abbas wants to be seen as a national leader, not an American-Israeli puppet in charge of the West Bank only.

Third, it assumes that Fatah is a more stabilizing force than Hamas. Given Fatah's corruption, fragmentation and ideological disarray, that is far from a sure bet.

JEREMY PRESSMAN

Storrs, Conn.

The writer is an assistant professor of political science at the University of Connecticut.

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Savage's assertion that a three-state solution "makes historical sense" is sophistry. He contends that economic, cultural and historic differences are so significant that dividing the Palestinians makes sense.

If the Palestinians separate or reunite, then that is their choice and not the decision of their occupiers.

I am afraid the real reason that Savage favors isolating Gaza is that "Israel would be able to treat Gaza as a pariah state and respond to Hamas' rocket attacks accordingly. Israel could then await Gaza's further descent into a quarantined chaos or the unlikely emergence of a more moderate political leadership." In other words, an excuse to continue to oppress Palestinians while blaming them.

ARCH MILLER

Arcadia

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Savage's arguments for separate Gaza and West Bank states ignore one important aspect: what the Palestinians want. Calls from outsiders for division of the Palestinian territories into two states, like calls from outsiders for partitioning Iraq, are arrogant. Some of his points don't even seem to support his position. For example, his comparison of the Gaza and West Bank economies points out how poor Gaza is compared to the West Bank. So, is he suggesting that Gaza should just sink deeper into poverty, or that other countries should prop it up?

The Palestinians do share 40 years of occupation and an identity as Palestinians, so it should be up to them to determine their future. My guess is that a majority of Palestinians would not want to try to create two viable states from the territory they have.

JAMES S. BRYANT

Richardson, Texas

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