The Australian – 26 March 2015
Your editorial “Eight-state solution floated” (25/3), noted the Palestinian Authority stated in 2008 it would not accept a mini-state of cantons. However, that comment misrepresented what was being discussed. That year, Israel offered the Palestinians a contiguous state equal in size to the land in the West Bank, with a capital in East Jerusalem and a land bridge to Gaza. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas simply walked away.
The Likud platform has never presented Benjamin Netanyahu with difficulties in advocating a Palestinian state ready and able to exist peacefully alongside Israel. Before the election, Netanyahu only said he would not support a Palestinian state “today”, in circumstances where the forces of extremism are taking over wherever there is a lack of authority in the Middle East.
Your claim that settlements occupy 40 per cent of the West Bank is just incorrect. Council boundaries associated with settlements, which include huge areas of empty land, may encompass that much for administrative purposes. However, as even Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat said in 2011, the actual built-up areas of the settlements occupy 1.1 per cent of the West Bank. It is misleading to conflate territories that have no development with settled areas.
The stumbling block to peace is not settlements, but the Palestinian intransigence and refusal to accept Israel’s right to live in peace as a Jewish state, as seen by the failure to accept or negotiate the 2008 offer, or now to negotiate. If they changed this attitude, the settlements would not prevent establishment of a Palestinian state today along the lines of those offered in 2000, 2001 and 2008.
Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council
South Melbourne, Vic