Letters: Gaza - the world has had enough

When is the world going to look at the Middle East and shout "Enough"? This is by far the biggest international political failure of the past 60 years and it needs resolved once and for all. No if's, no buts, no pandering to lobbyists, no getting bogged down in the minutiae of who started what and when. The international community needs to agree on a solution based on justice and peace – and then impose it. It cannot be left to the two actors to resolve because their negotiating positions are too unequal and their demands too far apart.

Everyone pretty much knows what the solution is: the establishment of a Palestinian state based on pre-1967 borders in return for a binding recognition of Israel and a commitment to its security.

We know that Israel has spent 40 years changing the "facts on the ground" so that a return to such borders is deemed impossible. Well, they need to be told that illegal actions don't cease to be so simply by virtue of the passage of time.

The Palestinians need to be forced to reject violence and Hamas and commit themselves to peaceful existence alongside Israel, and accept that some of the land they view as theirs will never be so again.

The imposition of the solution will be painful and probably violent in the short term, but there is no other way. The alternative is that this open sore continues and many more thousands will die. It's time for leaders in the US, UN, EU and Russia to step up and act like statesmen, and make a real difference to the course of human history.

The UK was a principal player in creating the mess in the first place, so our government should be leading the discourse for peace. The world has had enough of this endless injustice and violence.

Fraser Devlin

London SE15

I was astonished to read in Yasmin Alibhai-Brown's article of 19 November: "Britain had no legal right to the land [Palestine] it breezily handed over and has never apologised for its disastrous decision."

With the demise of the Ottoman Empire, The League of Nations mandated Britain (as the power who defeated the Turks in the First World War) to take responsibility for management of Palestine; and to try find a territorial accommodation acceptable to both Arabs and Jews.

Britain, having failed to find such a solution acceptable to both parties after the Second World War, confirmed its wish to terminate its mandate; and asked the newly established United Nations to assume responsibility for Palestine. It was later, in 1948, under United Nations auspices, that Israel was founded.

Nicholas Stanley

Newbury, Berkshire

Maybe now we will invest in a green future

Good grief. I'm in shock. The City has finally realised that future environmental breakdown will also have a massive detrimental effect upon the economy ("City tells Osborne: we can't afford to ignore climate risk", 20 November). Let's hope that this is a case of better late than never.

But will George Osborne take any notice? I hope so. It is likely that those nations that move swiftly to develop a low-carbon infrastructure will have a significant economic advantage in the future. It is noticeable that countries such as Korea are investing heavily in renewable energy and demand-reduction technologies.

So, let's forget about these superfluous airport and high-speed rail schemes and use the funds creatively to embrace a greener future.

Keith O'Neill


Why does your Environment Editor Michael McCarthy flatteringly refer to the likes of George Osborne and his father-in-law, Lord Howell, as "climate sceptics" (Comment, 15 November)?

A sceptic is willing to engage in a rational discussion, after which he is either persuaded by the argument or puts forward a reasoned case to the contrary. After 30 years the clear evidence of climate change is now almost universally accepted, so one has to either agree with the conclusions or come up with some extremely convincing alternative explanations for the dramatic changes in the world's climate which are already matching the "worst-case scenario" projections made by the world's climatologists.

Instead, those who refuse to accept the reality of climate science resort to all manner of dirty tricks and political shenanigans in their denial of the awful reality facing humanity.

Conservatism is traditionally associated with a cautious, socially responsible long-term viewpoint which today would probably help society cope with the uncomfortable changes and sacrifices we shall all have to make in order to leave the world habitable for our children.

This fanatical little band of science-deniers are clearly not conservatives in the normal sense of the word. They are dangerous zealots who are prepared to play Russian roulette with our children's future.

Aidan Harrison

Rothbury, Northumberland

What if McAlpine went to court?

One point about the McAlpine case that has not been commented on is that although lawyers are going to make a killing, the law has been circumvented. The BBC has paid out a large sum, and sums are being demanded from other organisations and individuals, without their liability having been established in court. This is unacceptable, because if the matter did go to court, especially in front of a jury, there is no guarantee that Lord McAlpine would win large damages.

There is also the strange anomaly that whereas Twitter users might be liable, Twitter itself is not. Twitter claims to be not a publisher, like a newspaper, but a conduit, like a telephone line. But if there is such a thing as a universal publisher, Twitter surely is it.

Andrew Belsey

Whitstable, Kent

There is something not quite right about a very wealthy and powerful individual such as Lord McAlpine seeking to take the law into his own hands by setting the terms for his redress, including the amount of damages people will have to pay. Add to this the prising of £185,000 from a BBC who had already issued a fulsome apology, money that comes from a lot of people who didn't tweet anything.

What the twitterers did was wrong. But we have laws to deal with them. The apologies from institutions involved were swift and fulsome. Only a greedy bully needs more.

Melissa Hawker

Ledbury, Herefordshire

NHS is not safe in their hands

For Dr Dan Poulter (News, 13 November) to suggest that the NHS is in robust health is a simple denial of reality. Although infection rates are at a record low and waiting times remain steady, these results are due solely to previous investments in staff and the strenuous efforts that have gone into these areas. Given the ongoing pressure on NHS Trusts to reduce costs the situation can only deteriorate.

To imply that Health Education England will resolve these issues over time is equally unrealistic. This organisation is involved in workforce delivery and education and will base its requirements on workforce planning information from NHS trusts. Throughout the NHS the primary activity in workforce planning is based on how staff numbers can be reduced to meet an arbitrary £20bn target with minimal planning for future needs, and it is these figures that the HEE will require to succeed in its objectives.

If Dr Poulter wishes to see the NHS continue as a successful and safe healthcare provider he should probably get out of Westminster more often and listen to what the remaining NHS doctors and nurses are saying before it's too late.

Peter Coghlan

Broadstone, Dorset

The Conservative Party, as it always has, is working on the principle that if you want to destroy an institution you must weaken its reputation so that everyone agrees that it is useless.

Your reports of the results of understaffing and underfunding in the NHS and the BBC show clearly that these are managed strategies. Quite soon the NHS will have to be privatised "to ensure the welfare of patients" and the BBC will probably be sold off to News Corp.

We are allowing these things to happen, bamboozled by Government and their press, the salacious detail and innuendo, while their supporters lick their lips over the rich pickings about to be available to them.

Gill Ledsham


Bishops don't mix with banks

How worrying to see the new Archbishop designate hectoring the head of the Royal Bank of Scotland about the social role of the bank (Diary, 15 November).

As a taxpayer and shareholder in this organisation I would like Stephen Hester to concentrate on restoring the business to normal profitability and, thereby, to full private ownership. It is the role of government to deal with social issues and when RBS returns the money used to bail it out no doubt the prelate will help the politicians to find new ways to squander it.

M R Battersby

Gosport, Hampshire

Down's parents

What moral right would Dominic Lawson have to withhold treatment to remove his daughter's Down's Syndrome? (Voices, 20 November). The chromosome disorder is not an identity variable like eye colour or freckles; it causes disability and limits life. If it becomes possible to remove the disability, could parents really justify refusing it because they had grown to love the child as is?

Ray Chandler

Shoreham-by-Sea, West Sussex

Party aid

If we want our political parties to thrive and remain democratic, then they must be supported financially by the state (report, 19 November). Large corporate donations from any source have to be forbidden, but the best way for the state to encourage individual donations is to extend gift aid to party donations.

Brian Hicks


Male disciples

I have long thought that the silliest argument, among many, against the appointment of women bishops is that based on the absence of evidence that Jesus appointed any woman to be an apostle (letter, 20 November). So, all gentiles are also disqualified, and the Church as we know it crumbles to dust.

Brian Mayes


Nasty business

First we had the Nasty Party. Then blue-sky thinking brought us the Big Society. Unfortunately for Britain, the upshot has been the Nasty Society. Could we offer an apology to the clouds?

Anthony Rodriguez

Staines, Middlesex