December 4: Israel’s response

I do not understand why, just because you lose a vote at the United Nations, you have to build more settlements.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s response
Sir, – I strongly support the decision by the Israeli government (“Israel responds to PA upgrade with plans for 3,000 housing units in West Bank settlements, east J’lem,” December 2).
The non-member observer status the Palestinians obtained was a purely technical upgrade, and in no way established a Palestinian State. Just as the State of Israel was not actually founded by General Assembly Resolution 181, which was the partition plan of November 29, 1947, so Palestine was not established last week. The State of Israel was declared by David Ben-Gurion on May 14, 1948, and its sovereignty was recognized then by a series of individual member states before it was admitted to the UN.
In order to be recognized as sovereign, a state must satisfy two criteria:
1. Does it control it own territory? In the case of “Palestine,” the answer is a resounding no.
Forty percent of the territory of Arab Palestine is controlled by Hamas in Gaza, and the government in Ramallah has no control there. Also, the PA controls only the seven cities of the West Bank (Ramallah, Nablus, Bethlehem, Jericho, Jenin, Tulkarm and Hebron). Israel controls the surrounding countryside, having given up the cities under the terms of the Oslo Accords (Area A). It stopped further withdrawals when Arafat unleashed the terrorism of the second intifada.
2. Does the putative state have an infrastructure of government and economic independence? The answer once again is no.
“Palestine” exists only as a name. It has inadequate organized infrastructure and is dependent entirely on international aid, much of which is routinely stolen.
Does the international community, including the US, which voted against the Palestinian resolution, expect that Israel will accept a fait accompli and do nothing after this unilateral maneuver? While the move of the PA resulted in a virtual change, that decided by Israel will result in a significant change on the ground – the E1 site will separate Judea from Samaria and ensure that there cannot be a contiguous Palestinian state.
Let this be a lesson to the Palestinians that Israel holds many cards, and if they act against Israel’s interests they will suffer accordingly.
Sir, – I do not understand why, just because you lose a vote at the United Nations, you have to build more settlements.
You hurt the United States’s efforts for peace more than anything else – and we voted with you! You just love to slap us in the face (but still take our money).
I believe in the two-state solution and Israel’s right to live in peace, but for God’s sake help us find a peaceful solution!
FRANK MALOOF Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania
Sir, – Bravo! We scored a brilliant shot in the war of flowery announcements. Venting is good therapy. Never mind that it will take years to make these pronunciamentos facts on the ground.
Where is Abba Eban when you need his phrase about never missing an opportunity?
Sir, – Israel’s UN ambassador, Ron Prosor, asks if Palestine is ready to be a state. Freedom and statehood are deemed a natural and divine right – for the Jews and all peoples – overdue more than ever after dispersion, colonialism or occupation.
As if to prove the need for the vote, the Post now reports on the 3,000 new housing units the Israeli government has approved for east Jerusalem and the West Bank.
The Right doesn’t seem to understand that only nine countries out of 192 voted against freedom and statehood for the Palestinians, the reason being that Israel has been taking over that people and its country. The UN vote was a way help save the two-state solution – and Israel as a majority Jewish country – before occupation makes it too late.
JAMES ADLER Cambridge, Massachusetts
Statehood’s downside
Sir, – I recently woke up to learn that I now live in Palestine.
I wonder if I should start paying taxes to the Palestinian government or if I should just send my taxes to the Israeli government – since the Palestinian government owes the Israeli government huge sums of money (for electricity, water, infrastructure work and more) It may sting that the world’s dictatorships and a few “liberal” democracies line up against us, but I think it will sting more when the Palestinian government tries to collect my taxes and I don’t pay.
Sir, – Now that the UN has declared the PA a state, shouldn’t we take that state to court for the war crime of terrorism against civilians committed by its “soldiers?” BARRY WERNER Netanya Good read Sir, – I knew I was in for a good read when I saw Liat Collins twice in a recent Friday edition of your newspaper – on the back page of the main section, and in the weekend magazine.
In “Rockets and political science” (My Word, November 30), she approaches her topic with no axe to grind. She gives a factual account with her own opinions clearly drawn as opinion.
She quotes Khaled Abu Toameh, Abba Eban and Avigdor Liberman in the same column, and makes use of the unique strengths of each.
Some of the authors who have been accorded that spot on the back page write as though they are shouting at the reader. Some also posit their opinions as facts.
Collins does neither.
In “What war?” in the weekend magazine (“Real Israel, November 30), she gives a very down-to-earth account of what it is like to live in this seemingly constant war zone. She is able to give people who do not live here a glimpse into the minds and feelings of those of us who ducked when thunder sounded in the same week that the Iron Dome missile defense system blasted Hamas rockets out of the sky.
Less is more
Sir, – In “TAU study: Best to stop smoking, but fewer cigarettes can help, too” (November 26), Judy Siegel reports that Tel Aviv University researchers found that while quitting completely is best, reducing cigarette consumption also provides health benefits. This should be obvious, but as the piece explains, it is a controversial issue.
Many anti-tobacco activists believe in a “quit or die” approach – quit using all tobacco forms completely or we can’t help you. This view lacks compassion, is ineffective and, as the study points out, is not based on sound science.
One innovative approach to helping people either reduce the amount they smoke or quit smoking altogether is to encourage them to switch from cigarettes, the most harmful form of tobacco and nicotine use, to less harmful forms, like smokeless tobacco and e-cigarettes.
In Sweden, very few people smoke. Instead, they use a less harmful form of smokeless tobacco known as snus. Tobacco- related diseases plummeted after the population switched from smoke to smokeless. Now available in Israel, Swedish-style snus can help Israelis reduce the deadly toll of smoking as well.
The critical fact is that nicotine, while highly addictive, is not the harmful component of tobacco.
Burning tobacco and inhaling it is the most serious risk.
As the TAU study underscores, even if the approach of reducing harm is only partially successful, people who reduce while not entirely eliminating cigarette consumption stand to gain.
JEFF STIER Washington The writer is director of the Risk Analysis Division of the National Center for Public Policy Research