Letter: Political errors that led to Nachshon Waxman's death

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Sir: Only those on the ground are qualified to make judgements on the military and strategic handling of the kidnap and murder of the Israeli soldier Corporal Nachshon Waxman by members of Hamas, but I would argue that the political mishandling of this affair ('Rabin got it wrong; let him now show respect', 17 October) was a direct result of doing deals with a terrorist leader who had lost majority support among his potential constituents even prior to the 'peace deal' with Shimon Peres.

By accepting this deal, Yasser Arafat was effectively telling Arabs of Palestinian ancestry in Lebanon and Jordan that the majority of them, largely the poorer ones who now support extremist groups such as Hamas, would be staying in those countries in the same economic condition indefinitely.

Yitzhak Rabin wants this 'peace deal' so that he can normalise relations with the Arab world, and because he wants to use a weakened Mr Arafat to control, or eliminate, the supporters of Hamas in Gaza and the West Bank.

Using the kidnap of Corporal Waxman as a fig-leaf for the latter objective is pointless. Mr Arafat is an incompetent and spent dictator with a diminishing constituency and limited life prospects who is not capable of terrorising Hamas supporters into compliance.

I hope the Israeli government will make no more concessions to him until he has shown that he can exercise military power over more than a few square metres around military and administrative buildings in Gaza and Jericho.

Yours sincerely, ALAN FINLAY London, NW4 17 October