Your editorial “Bad moves all around” (Dec. 12) regarding the Palestinian bid for recognition as a state at the UN was so “balanced” that it cannot be allowed to go unchallenged. I will respond only to one paragraph, which takes exception to Israel’s reaction (presumably, the “threat” to allow building in disputed areas east of Jerusalem, including the E1 corridor).
You ask, “What benefit is there to threatening to build more settlements on the west bank”? Leaving aside the fact that the areas are all “consensus” areas that all parties in Israel agree need to be kept in any peace agreement, the implication is that there is benefit to not building. Well, Israel did not build there during the last several years, and nothing came of it.
Do you remember Netanhayu’s housing freeze, which was supposed to move the Palestinians to the negotiating table? Mohamed Abbas stalled until the last few weeks before deigning even to speak to the Israelis. It led nowhere. You ask, “Will that end the killing? Will that obliterate the hate?” Do you honestly believe that if Israel pledged not to build settlements peace would reign? Perhaps the better question is, “Will anything obliterate the Palestinians’ hatred of Israel? Will anything end the killing?”
You ask, “Will that help build the kind of confidence necessary to achieve concord?” I am afraid that what we perceive as confidence building is perceived by others as weakness and despair. Sadly, the answer to your questions is that nothing will appease the other side short of our demise. How many concessions, how many failed initiatives, how many intransigent interlocutors will convince us that the best we can hope for is to protect ourselves? It is a horrible thing, to paraphrase Golda Meir, that we can forgive the Arabs for many things, but not for making us kill them in battle, yet that seems to be Israel’s fate.
Would it be better if Israel did not build in the settlements? It would, unfortunately, make no difference at all.