October 28: Matter of trust

In his speech delivered to the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference last week, Finance Minister Yair Lapid stated he does not trust Palestinians when it comes to the peace process.

Letters 370 (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Letters 370
(photo credit: REUTERS/Handout )
Matter of trust
Sir, – In his speech delivered to the Jerusalem Post Diplomatic Conference last week, Finance Minister Yair Lapid stated he does not trust Palestinians when it comes to the peace process (“Lapid: I don’t trust Palestinians, but we have to build trust for peace,” October 25). He then went on to state that a map with final borders was “necessary” for outlining all security arrangements for Israel, and that it would, as you reported, “lead to the evacuation of tens of thousands of settlers from the West Bank.”
That number of evacuees would treble the number of Gaza evacuees. What a shocking and disastrous statement to make so early in a most promising career! Has Lapid forgotten the horrific scenes of men, women and screaming children being dragged out of their homes and thrust into buses waiting to take them to heaven knows where? It is vital to know whether his massive settler evacuation plan was fully disclosed in the original political platform of his Yesh Atid party. If this highly contentious issue has only now surfaced, one expects Lapid to immediately reveal to the Knesset the full details of the plan, as well as his plans for peace and security.
As a senior politician it is his duty to do so. We trust he will.URI MILUNSKY Herzliya
Public diplomacy
Sir, – Martin Sherman’s “Dereliction of duty” (Into the Fray, October 25) was a good description of the sad state of some current international Israeli public relations.
Defenders of Israel often attempt to counter lies about Israel with the truth. This is not a winning strategy, because the audience does not know whom to believe. A winning strategy would be to point out the Islamic war against non-Muslims, which goes on all the time.
Major media outlets ignore this war.
To win neutral minds Israelis must attack their detractors. It is not enough to argue that they are lying.
Sir, – Bravo, Martin Sherman! During the height of the first Gulf war, when Saddam Hussein was showering Scud missiles on Israel’s cities, deputy foreign minister Binyamin Netanyahu served as a beacon of light with his inspiring media blitz. We listened in awe to his admirable analysis of the Middle East while appreciating his excellent ways of promoting Israel’s cause.
We hoped to see him change Israel’s dismal public diplomacy, which is why we enthusiastically voted for him as prime minister in the mid-1990s. Unfortunately, our hopes were dashed when he failed to make the necessary upheavals in the many diplomatic conflicts Israel faces in the world.
Mr. Sherman, we suggest you give hope to the many disenchanted voters, not only by your excellent articles but by “joining the fray” of politics and helping to revamp Israel’s so-called public diplomacy.
Ignoring basic facts
Sir, – In “Occupation” (Savir’s Corner, October 25), Uri Savir conveniently ignores the fact that the West Bank, before it came under Israeli rule in 1967, was ruled (occupied?) by Jordan for 19 years, by Britain for 31 years and by the Turks for 400 years. He fails to remind us who the last king or president of longsuffering Palestine was. He seems to have conveniently forgotten that before 1974 the Palestinians were always referred to as “Arab refugees,” and not as “Palestinians,” a fact he can easily check in any international newspaper archive.
Savir uses the term “apartheid,” describing how the “settlers” can use their own roads and buses. Which road is he referring to? Road 60, which on any day has far more vehicles with PA number plates than Israeli vehicles? Or is he referring to the many side roads with large red signs forbidding Israelis to enter? Then there are the “checkpoints.”
Savir again conveniently ignores the reason they are there and why. Has he forgotten the Sbarro bombing, the suicide bombers on Ben Yehuda Street, the Number 14 bus, the bombs on the Number 18 bus? The butchering of innocent Israeli civilians (and many Palestinians) over the past 50 years is why the checkpoints are there.
As long as our “peace partners” continue to incite their young children to murder Jews, the checkpoints must remain, no matter how cold and rancid his friend Riad’s coffee becomes.
Sir, – Uri Savir quite conveniently ignores contemporary international law.
First, he claims that “[t]he West Bank is Palestine because the great majority of its inhabitants are Palestinians, which makes it an occupied territory.”
Yet the correct definition of occupation under international law is to be found in Article 42 of the annex to Hague Convention IV, which stipulates that “[t]erritory is considered occupied when it is actually placed under the authority of the hostile army.”
While it might be disputed whether Article 42 assumes that a condition for occupation is the seizing of territory from its legal sovereign (which the West Bank, under Jordanian control, wasn’t), Savir’s argument attempts to make its legal status far more simple than it actually is.
The example concerning his friend ignores the rights of sovereign states. As noted by the great international legal scholar John Erskine Read, “the State has an unfettered right to refuse admission” to foreigners seeking to enter its territory.
Unless Savir believes the West Bank is part of Israel, a fortiori Israel, as any state, has the right to determine under what conditions one, including the instance of Palestinian inhabitants of the West Bank, may enter its sovereign territory.
Finally, Savir abuses the term “apartheid.” As noted in a recent article by Prof, Yaffa Zilbershats of Bar-Ilan University, restrictions upon the freedom of movement of persons is permitted under international human rights law and international humanitarian law, thereby rendering the apartheid analogy false.
Heart of the dispute
Sir, – Gershon Baskin asks, “Why is it so hard for Palestinians to recognize Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people?” (“This piece is for the Palestinians,” Encountering Peace, October 24).
Baskin does not understand that much of the blame rests with people like him who continually mouth the Palestinian narrative without regard to its many inconsistencies.
He refers repeatedly to the “1967 borders.” He must know that this is pure fiction. Both sides recognized that the pre- 67 lines were not borders, but armistice lines, with no permanent legal standing whatsoever.
He also says that “the Palestinian people are native to Palestine.” Yet many of the Palestinian leaders were born elsewhere (e.g., Yasser Arafat in Cairo, Faisal Husseini in Baghdad and Sari Nusseibeh in Damascus).
This suggests either an extremely expansive definition of “Palestine” or that there is no meaningful distinction between the Palestinian people and the greater Arab population of the Middle East.
Finally, Baskin proposes that the Palestinians promise to recognize Israel’s Jewishness once Israel accedes not only to all their demands, but also guarantees individual and collective rights to Palestinians in Israel.
(He seems oblivious to the emphatic Palestinian denial of any future rights for Jews currently living in the disputed territories.) His proposal implies that Israel’s Jewish character is a mere bargaining chip when, in fact, it represents the very heart of the dispute. Recognition of Israel as the Jewish homeland is not the last step, but the essential first step toward meaningful negotiations.
EFRAIM A. COHEN Zichron Ya’acov