LETTER: Fair dealing essential for Middle East peace

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The Independent Online
Sir: Apart from the horlicks of the population tables, the Herzliya Institute's proposal (report, 8 February) demonstrates precisely why the international community must be involved in the Middle East peacemaking: to protect the weak from the strong. For the Institute proposes a swap of the highest value Palestinian territory into Israeli hands in return for scraps of semi-desert.

If a durable peace is to be transacted it can only be because both parties accept they have been fairly, if painfully, dealt with. Only the application of international law and norms can do this, namely the Fourth Geneva Convention, the Hague Regulations (1908) and UNSCR 242's overarching principle: "the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war". After 37 years of military occupation involving illegal land and water expropriation, the international community has yet to insist on the application of these laws. It must find the courage.

If Israel wishes to cherrypick from the territories there must be reciprocation: the Palestinians free to state what they require in return. There must be a genuinely free and fair exchange. It must not be one-sided. Otherwise both sides will be dragged back into war.

DAVID McDOWALL

Richmond, Surrey

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