in the Middle East and al Qaeda will be able to recruit suicide bombers and others willing
to be terrorists for the cause. It doesn't matter what happens in Iraq, Afghanistan, or
Pakistan or even Lebanon. As long as Israel occupies post-1967 Palestine and as long as
there is no two-state solution, peace is impossible anywhere else.
One of the biggest obstacles to peace is the illegal settlements which have been built
on the West Bank. Sunday, a freeze on settlement construction ended. Jewish settlers
celebrated by starting construction on a child care center. Settlers claim over 11,000 homes
are waiting to be built, greatly expanding the size of the Jewish footprint in the West Bank.
The settlers know their communities are illegal in the eyes of the world and they hear talk
of a two-state solution; but they also know if they build enough there will be no practical way
to dislodge them from the area. Construction has to stop, the settlements abandoned, and
the land returned to the Palestinians.
Palestinian negotiators did not walk away from the negotiating table after Israel allowed
the construction moratorium to end. President Mahmoud Abbas says he will give it one more
week to resolve the issue or he will walk away. He told the United Nations that Israel must
choose between the settlements and peace. Extending the settlements would infringe on
territory Palestinians claim for their future state.
There is no debate, except within Israel and Israeli supporters in this country, about
whether the settlements are illegal. Numerous experts have cited them as violations of
international law. The settlements have taken Palestinian homes and land with no
compensation; and many believe the settlement movement is a brazen attempt to extend
Israel's borders precluding any peace negotiations or any solution to the conflict.
For their part, the Palestinians have to make choices too. They must recognize Israel's
right to exist. They must abandon their demand that exiled Palestinians have a "right to
return" to land which is now the state of Israel. They must settle the question of the status of
Jerusalem. They must denounce Hammas and show an ability to control security. These too
are obstacles to peace and only the Palestinians can deal with them.
If construction renews and settlements are expanded, we will have concrete proof Israel
does not desire peace nor is it interested in a two-state solution. If the moratorium ends and
new houses are built, American foreign aid to Israel should end. If more occupied land is taken
for Israeli use, military sales to Israel should be suspended.
Israel has every right to exist. It has every right to protect itself and its legitimate
territorial integrity. Israel has every right to oppose terrorism and defend itself. Israel does
not have the right to steal land, destroy fields, or expand its territory at Palestinian expense.
Perhaps Israelis should re-read the prophet Amos and what he says God thinks of oppression
and inhumanity. What do you think? I welcome your comments and rebuttals. Please send
them to email@example.com