Unfortunate funding

Sir, – The US State Department says it is “unfortunate” that Israel has decided to withhold part of the tax monies it collects for the Palestinian Authority (“Despite State Dept. frown, Israel to continue responding to PA unilateral moves,” April 13).

It is hard to see how the word “unfortunate” could ever be used to describe an action taken to collect debts. I am sure that Russian President Vladimir Putin would also take exception if the US described in this way Gazprom’s efforts to recover amounts owed it by Ukraine for natural gas.

What is truly unfortunate is that at no time in the past 14 years has any effort been made by either the US or the EU in their beneficent funding of the PA to curb it from paying vast amounts to Palestinian terrorists and ex-prisoners.

Perhaps US Secretary of State John Kerry would like to contemplate how different things could be had the US and EU insisted that their funding be used by the PA to produce its own electricity rather than squander it on payments to terrorists.

When money is fungible, it is no excuse to pretend that one is not responsible for the way PA President Mahmoud Abbas spends his budget.

HELEN ANISFELD Jerusalem

Issues in labeling Sir, – With regard to “Settlers: IDF seizure of Yitzhar yeshiva is ‘unprecedented hysteria’” (April 13), can anyone explain why Jewish youths who overreact to Arab provocation are “terrorists” and their yeshiva deserves to be closed? It seems that Arab hoodlums who daily terrorize and endanger the lives of those brave enough to visit the Jewish cemetery on the Mount of Olives are just “mischievous boys” and their school remains open.

V. KLEINMAN Jerusalem

Unbelievable

Sir, – While I have become accustomed to Gershon Baskin’s views on condemning Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for denying any possibility of a peace agreement with the Palestinians, I am dumbfounded by most of what he writes in “If Palestine can’t exist without Israeli agreement, agree now and move forward” (Encountering Peace, April 10).

For any Israeli to comment that demanding the Palestinians recognize Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people is “ridiculous” is nothing short of unbelievable, particularly coming from a person who claims to uphold Zionist ideas yet claims that Netanyahu is leading his people down a dangerous path to the demise of the Zionist dream.

ROBYN ROTBERG

Kfar Saba

Sir, – I cannot fathom Gershon Baskin’s ridiculous reasoning regarding the breakdown of the so-called peace process. He states that the Palestinians have little to give and Israel has no desire to give. What blatant nonsense! The most important “gives” are to recognize Israel as the Jewish state, to rescind the demand that refugees flood Israel and to agree to an end of the conflict. All we have received is no, no and no.

To use our refusal to release the last tranche of murderers as an excuse to walk away from the talks is rubbish. Lest anyone forget, these releases were conditional on progress in the talks; as the Arabs did not move a centimeter from their entrenched positions, no prisoners should have been freed.

Baskin says the Palestinians’ fiscal stability is on verge of collapse.

Know why? Because they pay their terrorists while in prison and then give them a hefty lump sum on their release. Even the families of suicide bombers are paid pensions Baskin refuses to see Palestinian intransigence! JUDY PRAGER Petah Tikva Sir, – Gershon Baskin warns us that if we don’t reach an agreement with the Palestinian Authority, this failure will come back to haunt us.

He cleverly hides several facts: 1. PA President Mahmoud Abbas walked away from prime minister Ehud Olmert’s generous offer in 2008 without responding.

2. Yasser Arafat did the same to Ehud Barak in 2000.

3. PA prime minister Salam Fayyad was fired by Mr. Abbas because he was too honest and demanding.

4. Mr. Abbas continuously supports terrorists.

If the PA is on the verge of financial collapse, maybe Mr. Baskin can tell us what happened to all the donor money it received.

MATTIAS ROTENBERG Petah Tikva

Not a solution

Sir, – In response to “Lapid proposes executive salary limits above NIS 3.5m. for financial institutions” (April 7), executive salaries and benefits need to be divided between a good basic salary and benefits, on one hand, and a sliding “super salary” fixed by a sophisticated system for measuring an executive’s contributions to the company’s bottom line, on the other.

The conditions for the “super salary” must be very tough. When measuring an executive’s contributions, special attention should be given to added value, share prices, worker remuneration and satisfaction, customer and public satisfaction, litigation, new products, future growth prospects and other relevant factors.

There are many very capable executives who could fill positions, but boards of directors generally choose acquaintances, thus limiting competition. These are very often government officials who, on completing their tenure, seek lucrative jobs.

A ceiling is not a solution.

DAVID GOSHEN Kiryat Ono

Not fully accurate

Sir, – Thomas L. Friedman’s “Sheldon: Iran’s best friend” (Comment & Features, April 6) is not fully accurate regarding some facts, for he writes that the State Department “refers to the West Bank” as “occupied territory” and that this is “the way the US government always has” called it.

For one thing, president Ronald Reagan, shortly after assuming office, held that settlements in the territories were not illegal. Moreover, his plan of September 1, 1982, eschewed labeling east Jerusalem occupied territory. Earlier, the Johnson administration studiously avoided referring to east Jerusalem as “occupied territory.”

The first to do so was the Nixon administration when its ambassador to the UN addressed the Security Council on July 1, 1969. Subsequently, under the Carter administration, the State Department attempted to claim that this had been the policy of the Johnson administration.

In reaction, Arthur Goldberg, who was UN ambassador under Johnson, wrote a lengthy and sharp letter published in The New York Times on March 6, 1980, repudiating this assertion. In it Goldberg declared: “The facts are that I never described Jerusalem as occupied territory.”

SHLOMO SLONIM Jerusalem

The writer is author of Jerusalem in America’s Foreign Policy Jungle out there Sir, – In response to “Israel road jungle,” which appeared in your Motopost supplement distributed with the April 4 newspaper, having returned five years ago after a long sojourn in the UK, I was grateful to read the article by Ben Caspit highlighting the state of lawlessness that prevails on our roads.

I would like to add failings that Caspit omitted: unwillingness to indicate when turning right or left; frequent use of mobile phones while driving; stopping to engage in conversation with a driver traveling in the opposite direction; and knowingly driving in the wrong direction along oneway streets.

As Caspit points out, speed cameras are not the answer. There should be a fleet of unmarked police vehicles patrolling the roads with video cameras, then punishing the offenders by revoking their licenses for an extended period. If the law is invoked vigorously, countless lives can be saved.

It is to be hoped that similar articles will appear in the Hebrew press and that the authorities will act before further lives are needlessly lost.

SHIMON HAR-EVEN Safed

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