Letter: Culpability of the Israeli government and army for the Hebron massacre

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The Independent Online
Sir: In the aftermath of the Hebron massacre, Charles Richards repeated his optimistic claim that 'the Israelis themselves have made a historic decision to disengage from the territories they occupy' (26 February). If the Rabin government had made such a decision, last Friday's bloodbath could have been avoided. Any commitment to disengage would require Mr Rabin to tackle the issue of settlers and settlements.

While announcing a so-called 'freeze' on settlement activity, Mr Rabin has persisted with the colonisation drive around Jerusalem, with more buildings and infrastructure for settlers. Existing settlements continue to sit on occupied Arab land and plunder Palestinian resources. In spite of the harassment of the population of Hebron and other areas by settlers, Mr Rabin has ignored the calls for the disarming of the


If the Rabin government had acted to disarm the settlers and evacuate those settlements unwilling to accept Palestinian sovereignty, the ongoing slaughter of Palestinians might have been prevented. Unless the Rabin government removes the obstacle to peace posed by the settlements, the Israeli-Palestinian accord looks set to fail. Mr Richards should recognise that without action on the settlements, talk of 'disengagement' amounts to little more than wishful thinking.

Yours faithfully,



26 February