November 20: Standing our ground

November 20 Standing ou

Standing our ground Sir, - Thanks to French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, a very important fact has been confirmed. When Israel sticks to the basic tenets of a truly independent state, it may face the world's resentment, but also receives its respect. Kouchner's attempt to pressure Israel into halting construction and natural growth for Gilo residents was flat-out rejected by this government. The front page headline "Kouchner: Gilo regrettable, but won't stop the diplomatic process" (November 19) is a testament to that. Israel needs to get back to the old days when it did whatever it took to protect its citizens, such as bombing the Iraqi nuclear reactor and going into hostile territory to save Israeli hostages brought to Uganda. The citizens of Israel deserve a strong, assertive government looking out for their interests. BARBARA BROWN Beit Shemesh Gilo's identity crisis? Sir, - It is mind-boggling but not unexpected that the current brouhaha over Gilo ("Gilo residents angered by US criticism of building plans," November 19) seems to be based on the US State Department's ignorance of the difference between Har Gilo and Gilo. The former, the hilltop adjacent to Gilo, was the site of a Jordanian Arab Legion artillery position that shelled civilian Jerusalem repeatedly over the years and was captured by the IDF during the Six Day War. As it lies over the Green Line, this disputed territory captured in a war of self-defense is indeed not an appropriate venue for building 900 Israeli apartments. However, the land upon which Jerusalem's southernmost neighborhood of Gilo was built was purchased from its Arab owners by Dov Joseph on behalf of the Jewish National Fund before 1948. Gilo was once indeed occupied territory: It was Jordanian-occupied Israeli territory from 1948 to 1967, after which its Israeli sovereignty was restored. It is as egregious an error for the Obama administration - or any other member of the politically correct, but factually wrong, international chorus - to object to construction in a neighborhood that has always been part of Israel's capital as it would be to object to similar construction in Tel Aviv. What is perhaps even more mind-boggling, but lamentably also not unexpected, is the ongoing failure of our Foreign Ministry, or at the very least the JNF, to make this abundantly clear. ILAN CHAIM Jerusalem Dead-on, Derfner... Sir, - Larry Derfner is dead-on when he writes that "Ehud Olmert offered [the Palestinians] 100%, including a large part of East Jerusalem" ("Go for it, Abbas!" November 19). So why didn't they accept everything offered them on a silver platter? Could it be that Abbas isn't really interested in what he asks for because that's not really what he wants? And he's absolutely correct when he writes that "most Israelis are incensed at the Palestinians' behavior" - probably because most Israelis are aware that Abbas is jockeying for all of Israel and all of Jerusalem. Go get 'em, Derfner! YAACOV PETERSEIL Jerusalem ...100% wasn't enough Sir, - Larry Derfner has reached a new low in his relentless campaign for the Palestinians. After castigating Israel for its refusal to make peace, Derfner offers as evidence the fact that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has taken off the table Ehud Barak's offer of 95% of the West Bank and Ehud Olmert's offer of 100%. Excuse me? Arafat and then Abbas rejected both proposals without making an alternative offer. Does Derfner believe Israel should offer more than 100%? How about Haifa? Or Tel Aviv? It is sad that intelligence gives way so easily to preconceived notions. SIDNEY HANDEL Tel Aviv