Thursday, March 17, 2011

Israel willing to make concessions to reach peace agreement with Arabs

This letter was published on March 16, 2011 in The Hour from Norwalk, Connecticut.

Israel willing to make concessions to reach peace agreement with Arabs

To the Editor:

Much of what Kathleen Mary Tepper writes in her letter, "Jerusalem became both an eternal and a universal city," published Friday, March 11, is simultaneously true yet highly misleading. For example, she refers to "native Palestinians" owning property, living and work ing in "more than 90 percent of what is now Israel, the West Bank and Gaza" prior to 1947 but fails to mention that in those days when one referred to Palestinians one generally meant the Jews living in Palestine; at that time the Arabs living in Palestine rejected the idea that they were a people separate from the general Arab nation.

Her statement also falsely implies that Arabs owned more than 90 percent of the land. Then, as it is now, the overwhelming bulk of the land was publicly owned.

In referring to the fact that the United Nations Partition Plan, violently rejected by the Arabs, apportioned to the Jewish people roughly 55 percent of what is today Israel and the disputed territories, she omits the fact that roughly 78 percent of Palestine had already been transferred to the Arabs. Thus, the plan actually called for the Arabs getting roughly 88 percent (the 78 percent comprising Transjordan plus 45 percent of the remainder) and the Jews only getting roughly 12 per cent. Unfortunately, while the Jews gladly accepted those crumbs, for the Arabs 88 percent of the loaf was insufficient. The result has been more than six decades of war, terrorism, death and dislocation.

For the first two of those six decades, Jordan occupied portions of Jerusalem, including the Temple Mount and the Western Wall, and despite signed agreements barred Jews from any access to those holy sites. Since the reunification of Jerusalem during the 1967 War, the holy sites of Jerusalem have been open to all. With that reunification, it again became "both an eternal and universal city," limited only to the extent made necessary by Arab terror.

The brutal murder, on the same day Tepper's letter appeared, of five members of the Fogel family as they slept in their beds in Itamar is a reminder of how necessary Israel's security measures remain. That the terror attack occurred just a month after Israel removed the nearby Hawara checkpoint is also a reminder both of how Israel bends over backwards, putting the lives of its own citizens at risk as it attempts to improve the lives of its Palestinian Arab neighbors and of how so often those Israeli gestures are reciprocated with murderous attacks.

Israel, as always, remains prepared to make painful concessions to reach a meaningful peace agreement with its Arab neighbors, including those who now call themselves Palestinians. The so-called "moderate" leader of the Palestinian Arabs, Mahmoud Abbas, rejected an offer of the equivalent of 100 percent of the disputed territories and has for the last two years refused to even sit down and negotiate. The peace Israel and its supporters yearn for will only become possible when its neighbors start putting their own welfare ahead of their desire to destroy Israel.

Alan Stein
president, PRIMER-Connecticut

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