Letters to the Editor
"Israel" urged to end settlements
From Professor John Dunn and others
Sir, Any plan for bringing about peace in Palestine and Israel must, from the start, address the problem of the illegal Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
We believe that the welfare and self-respect of the Palestinians are as important as the welfare and self-respect of the Israelis. Obviously, there must be a general acceptance of Israel’s right to exist. Equally, the Palestinians have as much right as any other people to live in a state in which the political institutions reflect their own interests as paramount.
This means that they have to have a viable territory in which they are free to live as they choose. This condition cannot be met as long as the only territory they can aspire to is honeycombed with the fortified settlements of an alien population and is subject to armed incursions. If no peaceful way of removing the imposition is open to the population concerned, it is inevitable that some of them will resort to violent means to do it. Suicide bombing must be condemned because it destroys innocent lives. But to condemn suicide bombing is not to justify the political oppression of the Palestinians.
The existence of the Jewish settlements on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip is a great wrong. If it were righted, the effect on Palestine and throughout the Arab world would be enormous and the situation would be transformed. If it is not righted, there cannot be peace in Palestine. This will remain true whatever the nature of the Palestinian Authority and the names of its leaders.
Against this statement of need, President Bush’s proposals appear hopelessly biased and inadequate. All the stress is put on reforming the Palestinian Authority and on the repression of violence, instead of giving priority to removing the causes of the tension. There is no doubt that it is within the power of the American Government to put such a degree of pressure on Israel as to enforce the removal of the settlements.
There is no objective American national interest that requires the extraordinary degree of support which has been given, over the years, to Israeli policies. The greatest American interest in the region is the establishment of a fair settlement.
More and more people in both America and Israel are coming to despair of the present policies ever bringing about peace and a tolerable atmosphere for Israeli and Palestinian citizens to live in. We in Britain can only do a very little to hasten the day when a real change becomes possible, but that little we should do.
(Professor of Political Theory,
(Lord Privy Seal, 1979-81),
(Emeritus Professor of Economics,
(Chancellor of the Exchequer,
Head, Government Economic
(King Edward VII Professor,
(Chairman, Midland Bank, 1987-91),
(Second Permanent Secretary,
HM Treasury, 1973-77),
(Permanent Secretary, Ministry of
Overseas Development, 1968-70),
(Permanent Secretary, Foreign and
Commonwealth Office, 1986-91),
Faculty of Social and
University of Cambridge,
Free School Lane,
Cambridge CB2 3RQ.