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Israeli treatment of the Palestinians

19 June 2015


From Mr Jeremy Moodey

Sir, - In dismissing calls for the UK to recognise Palestinian rights to their own state, your correspondent Dr Adrian Whitehall ( Letters, 5 June) makes factual errors.

I will pass over his misreading of Zechariah 12 and note, for example, that Hamas is not the "ruling party" in the Palestinian territories, only in Gaza. And Israel's unilateral withdrawal of its illegal settlers from Gaza in 2005 was not a peace-loving act as Dr Whitehall claims. Rather, it was almost immediately followed by a blockade that, over the past ten years, has caused a humanitarian catastrophe for the nearly two million Palestinian inhabitants of Gaza, 60 per cent of whom are dependent on food aid, and where unemployment is the highest in the world, according to a recent World Bank report.

Perhaps most egregiously, Dr Whitehall recycles the myth that Israel has regularly offered to exchange land for peace. It has done no such thing. The "Olmert peace plan" of 2008 was unacceptable to the Palestinians because it involved the annexation to Israel of the main West Bank settlement blocs, and made no concessions on Jerusalem as a shared capital. And it is, in any case, highly doubtful that Olmert could have delivered on the proposal, given the strength of the colonial-settler project inside Israel.

Israel's so-called "settlement freeze" of 2009 lasted less than a year and applied only to new settlement development; existing settlements in the West Bank and all settlements in East Jerusalem were unaffected and continued to expand. Indeed, Israel's commitment to an equitable peace with the Palestinians can be measured by the fact that, since the Olmert "initiative" of 2008, about a quarter of a million Jewish settlers have illegally set up home in occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank.

Each new settler makes a two-state solution harder to achieve. As one Israeli academic famously remarked of the current Israeli Prime Minister: "Netanyahu is like a man who, while negotiating the division of a pizza, continues to eat it." This is not the way to achieve peace in Israel and Palestine.


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