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Northwest Voices

Seattle Times letters to the editor

September 11, 2009 at 4:00 PM

Israel: Should settlements be withdrawn from Palestine?

Freezing Israeli settlements a path to peace

In attacking President Obama’s demand for a settlement freeze by Israel [“Obama’s misguided approach to Israel,” Opinion, guest column, Sept. 4], Nevet Basker is either incredibly naive or supremely Machiavellian.

She presents a simplistic version of what Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to achieve. It’s not about adding a few more bedrooms to existing settlements. You don’t need construction cranes and heavy building equipment for that.

Jews should be allowed to live anywhere they want, including Judea and Samaria — as long as they become Palestinian citizens.

The fact is that settlement expansion and even the presence of settlements outside the Jerusalem area is unsustainable. And a Middle East without a Palestinian state is, too. Sooner or later, the piper will be paid. Better to come to terms with that reality now.

The worst thing that could happen to Israel from the Palestinians is not a Hamas takeover. It’s the possibility of an anarchic regime in the West Bank like what exists in Somalia where there is indeed nobody to talk to.

Israel should avail itself of talking to the elected Palestinian officials regardless of how weak they are. Maybe when these can deliver an independent Palestine they will be strengthened.

— Robert Stern, Seattle

A quick fix for conflict: End the occupation

Nevet Basker betrays her own logic proclaiming herself a moderate and a critic of the settlement movement but then says nothing about the many United Nations resolutions declaring Israeli settlements illegal and in violation of international law and the Geneva Convention.

Most settlement construction is not about adding a bedroom for a new baby but the expansion of the footprint to make room for a few thousand more settlers, putting in cement “facts on the ground.”

A quick-fix solution has been prepared and waiting for 40 years. Ending the occupation is the more moderate position for all who seek justice in that land.

— Rev. Richard K. Gibson, Lynnwood

No defense for illegality of Israeli settlements

Nevet Basker’s guest column is remarkable for its distortion of the historical and legal record.

She speaks of the Obama administration’s position that Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian land must stop as rigid. What is rigid is Israel’s unrelenting policy of building such settlements.

Nevet writes that Obama is ignoring Bush administration commitments to recognize realities on the ground. If a Seattle mayor sends a letter to a developer acknowledging the reality on the ground of illegally built condos on city property, that doesn’t make the condos legal — it only acknowledges the lackluster ethics of the former mayor.

Nevet writes that the Obama stance “constitutes a double standard.” The plain fact is that Israeli occupation of territory outside of its 1967 borders is illegal by international law and United Nations resolution, period.

Palestinians have no responsibility to make concessions to end the settlements or the occupation; Israel must end its illegal occupation, because it’s illegal.

That is the necessary first step to peace.

— Aaron Katz, Seattle

Comments | More in Barack Obama administration, Bush administration, Foreign policy, Israel, Politics

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