July 29, 2014
From Mr David Harris.
Sir, Edward Luce provides a formula for failure, not success, in Israeli-Palestinian peacemaking (“Obama needs to play the honest broker in the Mideast”, July 28).
First, he ascribes all the major impediments in the search for a deal to Israel and its supporters. Not a single word about Palestinian responsibility for the failure to reach agreement on a two-state accord, as if history could be so easily rewritten and the Palestinians could be let off the hook. But the truth is that Israeli leaders, left, right and centre, have all come up short in achieving an end to the conflict because of Palestinian rejectionism.
Second, Hamas is only mentioned in passing, when, in fact, it is a major hurdle both for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA), not to mention Egypt which has shut its border with Hamas-run Gaza. But a Muslim Brotherhood-linked organisation committed to Israel’s destruction, at odds with the PA, and in charge of the terrorist infrastructure in Gaza is not, alas, an inconsequential factor in the map of Middle East peacemaking.
And finally, if Israel is ever to have the confidence to engage in a substantial territorial withdrawal for the sake of peace with the Palestinians, its legitimate security concerns cannot be given short shrift. Unlike Britain, Israel is not an island nation. It lives with Syria, Hamas and Hizbollah on its borders, and Iran and Isis just a short distance away. The only country other than itself that Israel can trust, if it is to take risks for peace, is the US. But if Washington were to distance itself from Jerusalem, that would surely create a major disincentive for Israel to take the gamble.
David Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish Committee, New York, NY, US