Letter: Unjustly dim view of Israel

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The Independent Online
ROBERT Fisk sees through a glass darkly ("Israel's 50 years of shame", 4 January) and appears incapable of recognising or representing the real progress that has occurred in relations between Israel and her Arab neighbours.

Fisk sees only a "poisoned agreement" between Israel and the Palestinians, and "opprobrium" for King Hussein over Jordan's peace treaty with Israel. In fact, we are witnessing the difficult start of a regional renaissance grounded in the fundamentally pragmatic realisation that peace is the only option.

This is not starry-eyed optimism: the peace agreements have already withstood brutal tests, including more than 40 terrorist attacks by Islamic radicals against Israeli civilians which have taken hundreds of lives since the signing of the Declaration of Principles in September 1993.

Moreover, the overwhelming majority of these attacks occurred not when the going was tough but when the most visible and tangible progress was being made, including the handing over of major cities on the West Bank to the control of the Palestinian Authority.

Not surprisingly, Israelis opted for a more cautious approach, and the attacks have radically diminished. Progress now is slower and less spectacular, but there is relative security and, contrary to the view through Fisk's prism, there is progress.

This month alone, Israel is expected to announce a further redeployment in the West Bank, while, less conspicuously, Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on three technical committees are working out security arrangements that will permit the development of a seaport and airport for Gaza and an access road linking Gaza with the Palestinian-controlled areas in the West Bank.

Helen Davis

Britain Israel Public Affairs Centre, London WC1