Letters: Obama and Israel

Israel will not help Obama
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The Independent Online

President Barack Obama has called for the borders of Israel and a Palestinian state to be based on pre-1967 borders with agreed swaps (Report, 21 May).

Notice the added proviso "with agreed swaps". Given Israel's "facts on the ground" as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu's rejection of any return to the 1967 lines as "indefensible", what chance do we weakened and oppressed Palestinians have?

The President adds that, "No peace can be imposed upon them (Palestinians and Israelis), nor can endless delay make the problem go away".

Yet again, the US President obfuscates to give Israel the upper hand as already evidenced by Netanyahu's response stating that Israel's "withdrawal would endanger Israel's security and leave major Jewish West Bank settlements within Palestinian territory".

Israel is in illegal military occupation of Palestinian lands. There is nothing to negotiate. Israeli forces must leave Palestinian lands forthwith. The Jewish settlements are illegal under international law and have been since the very first Jew settled on stolen land.

When will the President have the courage to say it as it is: "For justice to happen and to be seen to happen, Israel should get out of occupied Palestinian territories. Now."

If he were to do that, then he can spare us the hypocritical cant about democracy in the Arab world, about Palestinians doing the right thing in recognising Israel and about the awful suffering perpetrated through the "clash of civilisations".

Dr Faysal Mikdadi

Dorchester, Dorset

Contrary to the letter from Bruce Levy and others (10 May), Ahava's products are made from resources extracted within Israel. Some of the products are made from these resources in Mitzpe Shalem, a small kibbutz just inside the West Bank, but this does not make them illegal or immoral. There was no previous Palestinian settlement here, so no Palestinians were displaced. Indeed, Palestinians are now employed by Ahava.

The International Court of Justice gave no "ruling" on Israeli settlements in the West Bank; its opinion was no more than advice requested by the UN General Assembly and is not legally binding.

In fact, there is a strong argument that the settlements are lawful under the 1922 Mandate for Palestine, which continues to apply in the West Bank through Article 80 of the UN Charter, and which calls for "close settlement by Jews on the land". The Oslo Accords recognise that the settlements are matters which must be addressed by final status negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians; this clearly indicates that they may remain in place until a final agreement is reached.

Israel occupied the West Bank when it was attacked from this territory by Jordan. The occupation remains lawful while the Palestinians continue to refuse to discuss a final settlement with Israel.

No apartheid exists in Israel, where Arabs, Christians and Druze vote in all elections, participate fully in civil society, and hold high positions in government and the judiciary.

All that is needed to end the occupation is for the Palestinians to sit down and negotiate sensibly and responsibly with Israel; and for Hamas to amend its charter by deleting the clauses which call for the genocide of the Jewish people.

David Lewis, Gerald M Adler, Jonathan DC Turner

London N3

Wrong use of a gagging order

Perhaps the most important element of the report of Master of the Rolls Lord Neuberger on superinjunctions and his joint press conference with Lord Judge, the Lord Chief Justice, was to float the slippery privacy balloon back in parliament's direction.

It was easy to welcome their public commitment to "open justice" while wincing at their implied criticism of MPs and Lords for using parliamentary privilege to breach certain injunctions. Lord Stoneham and Lord Oakeshott, along with their Lib-Dem MP colleague John Hemming, deserve public thanks for effectively blowing apart former RBS chief Sir Fred "The Shred" Goodwin's gagging order.

Quite how the judge who granted the original order felt allegations of a doubly adulterous affair between Sir Fred and a senior female colleague as the bank went belly-up in Britain's biggest corporate collapse (triggering a £45.5bn taxpayer bailout) was not a matter of public interest must baffle 99.9 per cent of the British people. Parliamentary privilege is a valuable tradition going back more than three centuries and the Goodwin case is a good use rather than mis-use of that privilege.

The Independent Business Editor David Prosser summed it up succinctly (20 May) when he concluded, "And sleazy though it may be, the question of whether RBS's boss was too busy bonking to pay sufficient attention to the balance sheet is one of genuine public interest". John Hemming echoed the views of millions when he said, "We have a judge who saw no public interest in the behaviour of the chief executive who was in charge of the biggest loss in banking history and whose affair appears to have run against his own organisation's code of conduct".

Paul Connew

St Albans, Hertfordshire

Sir Fred Goodwin's wife is Lady Goodwin, not Lady Joyce (picture caption, 20 May). If we're going to bother with these nominal embellishments, we might as well get them right.

Bernard O'Sullivan

London SW8

Fairer way to see wartime Ireland

In response to William Oxenham (Perspectives, 20 May) I would point out that the Irish State was neutral in the Second World War, as were many countries who were not part of the imperial power game at the time and were, in essence, anti-war.

And the country had only recently emerged from a war with Britain itself and therefore could not be expected to be allied to their erstwhile enemies.

But the real issue is that Mr Oxenham feels that this was a dispute among equals, so both sides are equally to blame and due an apology. In fact, it was a military and economic subjugation by a large and strong country of a much smaller and weaker one, resulting in a malign influence exerted over Ireland by Britain for much of the modern era.

This resulted in the independence movement and, ultimately, the IRA. I firmly believe the time is right to forgive these state crimes but the historical events should never be forgotten and modern-day apologists for imperialism should not be countenanced.

I feel the belief that Irish people should be bowing and curtsying to a British monarch displays where Mr Oxenham feels the relationship between the two countries should be now.

Finally, I would point out that Gerry Adams is on record as saying, "Irish republicans too, have caused much hurt to people in Britain".

Denis Lenihan

London N16

Ireland's "shameful stigma" of neutrality (letters, 20 May)? Why? Is it well known that British military personnel, usually airmen who landed on Irish soil during this conflict, were not held captive, unlike their Axis counter-parts? No one, not even Unionists, complained when the Dublin Fire Brigade sent its vehicles to Belfast to assist with fighting the Belfast Blitz.

The same terminology is not usually aimed at neutral Sweden who openly colluded with the Nazis, supplying them with precious iron ore. De Valera was painfully married to protocol, so when another head of state died, he followed standard procedure of paying his respects at their embassy, even though it happened to be Hitler.

If you want to delve into the murky world of the conflict in Northern Ireland, the British security services have much to answer for with regard to shoot-to kill-policies (nearly always against Republicans), collusion with Loyalist "terrorists" etc. Frankly, I think it is ridiculous that anyone should be required to curtsy or bow their head to anyone, let alone a royal.

In fact, I would find it hard to keep a straight face when presented to a non-elected hereditary representative from an institution which should have been consigned to a bygone age a long time ago.

Richard Leyland

Croydon, Surrey

Aid is crucial in a shaky Yemen

David Cameron is right to insist that overseas aid targets are made law ("Government 'committed to aid bill'", 17 May). The Government should not be able to "change its mind about the pace at which it reaches its target", as Liam Fox says. Those most in need do not have the privilege of dictating their timetable of need.

Nowhere is British support more vital than in countries such as Yemen. Yemen is facing a humanitarian crisis and the real possibility of civil war; it also is suffering the displacement of a third of a million people. It is the regional hub for al-Qa'ida.

To fail to live up to our promises will lead to further instability. The tragic consequences will not only be felt on the streets of Sanaa and Aden but here in London and other cities in the UK.

Rt Hon Keith Vaz MP

House of Commons, London SW1

Give us lanes

In all the letters on cycling nobody has emphasised the salient point: that it is absurd to have cyclists and and large goods vehicles sharing the same roads. There is space on most roads for cycle lanes separated by a high kerb, and lorries could be banned from some roads. The problem is that there is a lot of revenue in motoring, and none in cycling.

Trevor Roberts

Bramford, Suffolk

Bank on it

In response to Thomas Sutcliffe's quest for a male equivalent of the terms slut and slapper (Social studies, 17 May), I offer a suggestion that the word banker may come closest.

K Hall

Winchelsea Beach, East Sussex

Perspectives on rape and Ken Clarke

A gross injustice that must stop

Mary Dejevsky is a very brave woman and deserves applause for her courage in writing a rare column (20 May) full of common sense on rape. Daring to question the blinkered view of the Saintly Sisterhood, she has provided a perspective that allows the crime to be taken seriously in its own right and not just dismissed as more feminist whining.

Along with your writers Christina Patterson and Steve Richards, The Independent is among the few newspapers treating rape seriously, not using it as a political football for enraged feminists. A viewpoint that is both rare and refreshing, and I congratulate you on it.

Only by treating rape properly will the huge injustice of the trial by public opinion that those accused of rape – accurately or not – have to go through be ended.

It is grossly unfair that men accused of rape have been tried, found guilty and punished in the media long before any court appearance. Rape seems to be the only crime where "innocent until proven guilty" does not apply.

Too many rape accusations are shown to be false for this to be acceptable, and it has to change. There should be enforced anonymity on all sides of a rape case until a verdict is handed down.

Paul Harper

London E15

This 'outrage' is just infantile

Ken Clarke was unwise in his initial use of the word "serious" in the discussion of dealing with perpetrators of rape. But what he actually meant became obvious to anyone who bothered to listen further. And his meaning was entirely reasonable, and not at all demeaning to rape victims.

Unfortunately, we live in times when public discourse has degenerated to the level of the nursery: our attention span is barely longer than a minute; the hint of a slight leads to the indulgence of gleeful indignation and then to a toddler tantrum of alarming volume.

It would be a tragedy if one of our few older, wiser politicians were to be banished from government because of the reaction of the unthinking infantile outrage tendency.

Susan Alexander

Frampton Cotterell, South Gloucestershire