A welcome release


Sir, – The Israeli ambassador writes (October 20th) that Israel is ready for negotiations with Palestinians “without preconditions”.

But when he spoke to the US Congress on May 24th, 2011, Prime Minister Netanyahu laid down a host of preconditions – he said No to a return to the 1967 borders, No to military withdrawal from the Jordan River (so a future Palestinian state would be completely encircled by Israeli armed forces), No to a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem, and No to even a symbolic return of some refugees. What are those if not pre-conditions? What is more, under the Roadmap, Israel is supposed “freeze all settlement activity (including natural growth of settlements)” before the start of negotiations. But it has arrogantly refused to do so.

As the Financial Timeseditorial on October 19th, 2011 stated: “As long as Israel continues to colonise ever larger chunks of Palestinian land, it will be impossible for Palestinian leaders to resume talks. The Israeli prime minister knows this well. Mr Netanyahu should reverse this destructive policy if there is to be any chance of progress. Otherwise, Mr Shalit’s hope that his release might foster reconciliation will be nothing more than wishful thinking.”

In other words, negotiations in Mr Netanyahu’s dictionary have become a code word for perpetuating the current “unsustainable” status quo. Because he literally left us with nothing to negotiate as he systematically took nearly every permanent status issue off the table.

Readers should be mindful that a two-state solution has been on offer to Israel since 1988, after we adopted the objective of establishing a democratic Palestinian state in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, and Gaza, (22 per cent of historic Palestine) with the Israeli state continuing to exist in its pre-1967 borders. – Yours, etc,


Mission of Palestine,

Mount Merrion Avenue,

Co Dublin.

Sir, – In response to your Editorial (October 19th), the Israeli ambassador Boaz Modai quotes his Prime Minister Netanyahu’s pleas to the Palestinian Authority to “begin negotiations immediately without preconditions” and to “negotiate peace”. He then asks, rhetorically, “Which words . . . are unclear to your Editorial writer?” (October 20th).

I would suggest that while the meaning of the words in question is clear, Mr Netanyahu’s meaning is not. For him, as he has repeatedly demonstrated over the years, “without preconditions” means “without Palestinian preconditions” while “peace” means total Palestinian surrender.

Mr Modai queries “your writer’s use of quotation marks for the word ‘terrorist’,” and gives two examples of what he considers to be Palestinian terrorism.

The problem, however, is that while the rest of the world uses the word “terrorism” to mean violence against civilians, Israel uses it to refer to all forms of resistance to its illegal occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territories, including combat actions against Israeli soldiers.

Indeed, given that the word originally referred exclusively to state violence in the wake of the French Revolution, it is eminently applicable to the policies and actions of the Israeli state against Palestinian civilians.

Until the latter usage becomes normal, the quotation marks should stay. – Yours, etc,


Lower Baggot Street,

Dublin 2.