Missing boys

Sir, – It is easy to blame settlers. After all, they hitch rides. Unfortunately, if they took buses they would still be at risk.

Israelis within the pre-1967 lines are also at risk. They can be abducted while refueling or changing a flat tire. It is easy to pull over and force someone into a car at gunpoint, knife-point or by brute force.

We are all Gilad Schalit, Naphtali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach. And that is the problem, for as long as there are incentives, Israelis will be kidnapped.

Since the government buckles to public and media pressure and pays disproportionate ransoms, kidnappings will keep happening.

Freeing Schalit was a low point in Israel’s history. Let us either not negotiate or link the price for the return of captives to similar numbers of prisoners in our jails.

Anything else will simply ensure it keeps happening.

MICHAEL FACTOR
Ofra

Sir, – There are things we can and should do – in no special order:

1. Place two armed IDF soldiers at each bus stop or hitchhiking station. The cost of the current efforts to find the three yeshiva students would surely pay for such a measure, not to mention the heavy cost of anguish on the part of the families.

2. We should reconsider our acceptance and even glorification of hitchhiking. It is largely discouraged throughout the world, even in “safe” countries.

3. Start a nationally televised effort, targeted to children in particular, about the seriousness of prank calls to the police.

4. Trace all calls to the police.

There should be a heavy monetary fine and/or hours of social service levied for prank calls.

5. Increase the bus service in Judea and Samaria and make it be on time. If government subsidies are necessary, so be it.

But first and foremost, and most importantly, we should stop freeing terrorists in peace deals and we should surely stop force-feeding those who are on hunger strike. Just let them die.

ELI SCHMELL
Rehovot


Sir, – Maybe now is a good time to suggest that any community or town lacking regular public transportation should subsidize its own bus or van. Surely, anyone who sends his or her child to a yeshiva will gladly pay an extra NIS 10 a month to make sure the child can get home safely, even after late-evening studies.

Perhaps Anglos who send their children to study in Israel might be willing to collect funds for such a venture, even if every bus or van has to carry a plaque stating the name of the donor. Perhaps an non-profit can be organized; call it “Wheels for Life.”

Sometimes it makes sense to carry out a plan of action even after the proverbial barn doors have closed.

YAACOV PETERSEIL
Jerusalem


Savir-ly out of touch

Sir, – Uri Savir’s “Elections Now” (Savir’s Corner, June 13) contained 1,389 words (thank you, WordCount), but all should be invalidated by the handful of words describing him at the end, especially that he “served as Israel’s chief negotiator for the Oslo Accords.”

It’s incredible that his opinions haven’t changed and he’s given a platform to express them. It’s the equivalent of inviting the CEO who bankrupted the company to be keynote speaker at the next board of directors meeting.

BENJIE HERSKOWITZ
Ma’aleh Adumim

Partial clarity

Sir, – Your June 11 editorial “Aussie clarity” stated, in part, “Far from ‘occupied,’ the status of Judea and Samaria should enjoy a unique status in international law as land that has never been unequivocally set aside for a specific people by the international community.” That statement is blatantly untrue.

The League of Nations, establishing the Mandate for Palestine, unanimously declared on July 24, 1922, that “recognition has been given to the historical connection of the Jewish people with Palestine and to the grounds for reconstituting their national home in that country.” Note the words “reconstituting their national home.” The international community explicitly recognized the Jewish people as the long-exiled indigenous people of the land.

Furthermore, the League of Nations mandated measures by which to accomplish the reconstitution of that national home. It directed the administration of the mandate to facilitate “close settlement by Jews on the land….” (Article 6) and prohibited any part of the land to be “… in any way placed under the control of the government of any foreign Power” (Article 5).

The mandate is the only international act on these lands that has the force of law. It has never been repealed or superseded. It was, in fact, adopted verbatim by the UN when it created the Trusteeship Territories.

The international community now wants desperately to forget these facts. It makes so many problems with the Arabs, you know.

JACK GOLBERT
Efrat

Sir, – Article 2 of the Mandate for Palestine stated: “The Mandatory shall be responsible for placing the country under such political, administrative and economic conditions as will secure the establishment of the Jewish National Home, as laid down in the preamble....”

The Mandate applied, inter alia, to the whole of Judea and Samaria. If the above does not constitute the “unequivocal setting aside for a specific people by the international community” then I fear, after 32 years in this country, that I am losing command of my native language!

LARRY REEFE
Netanya

Sir, – The reference in your editorial to the 1947 UN Partition Resolution pertaining to the British Mandate of Palestine does not correctly address its demise.

The resolution essentially partitioned the Mandate for Palestine into a Jewish state and an Arab state. There was no so-called Palestinian political leadership at this time. It was the Arab League that rejected the partition plan and launched a war against the Jewish state, called Israel, which had accepted partition.

The concept of a Palestinian political entity emerged only as part of the 1993 Oslo Accords.

ALBERT RETTIG
Tel Aviv

Sir, – Why an editorial so far extremist as to deny even an occupation? “Aussie clarity” denies the consensus of UN Resolution 242 of “territories occupied in the recent conflict,” which Israel signed. And Ariel Sharon himself said in May 2003: “You cannot like the word, but what is happening is an occupation – to hold 3.5 million Palestinians under occupation...

that is a terrible thing for Israel and for the Palestinians.”

Israel has full military or police control of the West Bank. It controls borders. It may arrest and imprison, destroy homes and deny building permits, and has let in 700,000 settlers. Such constitute the essence of occupation.

Israel also signed Geneva Convention IV, where Article 49 states: “The occupying power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies.”

As to the Mandate for Palestine, it violated the League of Nations covenant that created mandates. Article 22 says that “those colonies and territories” no more “under the sovereignty of the states which formerly governed them... are inhabited by peoples” whose “well-being and development... form a sacred trust of civilization” until impending decolonization. The UN perpetuates this violation in its own Covenant.

JAMES ADLER
Cambridge, Massachusetts

Sir, – Your editorial adequately commends Australia’s recent statement not to call east Jerusalem occupied. The Aussie attitude therefore begs the question: Why isn’t its embassy located in Jerusalem? Even if Australia choses to put its embassy in the western part of the city, it would be putting its money where its mouth is.

URI HIRSCH
Netanya

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