Letter: Peace of a sort in the Middle East

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Sir: Yasser Arafat's call (report, 4 July) for Jerusalem to be the capital of a future Palestinian state seems to be needlessly provocative, and a sure recipe for war. Jerusalem has never been an Arab capital, while David made it the capital of his kingdom nearly 3,000 years ago.

Surely, a more imaginative solution would be to proclaim Hebron, holy to Jews and Arabs, as the capital of the Palestinian state that is bound to emerge from the final-status negotiations, trading one holy city for another.

The Palestinians had a chance, in 1948, to turn East Jerusalem into their capital. Instead, their iron determination not to allow the Jewish people any form of independence in a land saturated with Jewish history led them to flout the will of the UN, and into one disastrous war after another, which has left them with a much diminished territorial base.

Is it too much to hope that history will not repeat itself? Where are the voices among Arafat's advisers to urge realism and restraint? Are the Palestinians determined to remain prisoners of an ideology that has brought them nothing but grief?

Yours sincerely,

JOHN NORMAN

London, W3

4 July

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