Letters: Way for Israelis and Palestinians to live together

These letters appear in the Monday 28th April edition of the Independent



You are to be applauded for highlighting the failure of the United States to keep the Middle East peace process on the road (“Yet another betrayal of the Palestinians”, 26 April).

In practice, there has been no realistic peace process since the assassination of Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1995. The Israeli government complains that it has had no partner for peace, yet Mahmoud Abbas has always been a willing partner. The recent agreements between Fatah and Hamas are merely being used by Israel as an excuse to stall the process still further.

Israel has never been willing to accept the idea of an independent Palestinian state as an equal partner. The most it was prepared to concede was a client state cut into non-contiguous zones by vast swathes of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

It is also unrealistic to expect any Palestinian negotiator to recognise Israel as a Jewish state. This is to deny full rights of citizenship to that significant minority of Israel’s population, mainly Palestinian Arabs, who are either Muslim or Christian.

In a recent speech, Peter Hain said that many significant players, such as John Kerry and William Hague, believe that time is rapidly running out for a two-state solution, and that we need to consider various models of a common-state solution as the only realistic way forward.

Speaking at a meeting in Liverpool recently, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, Professor Manuel Hassassian, looked back to medieval Andalucia as a golden age when Jews, Muslims and Christians lived together in harmony in a vibrant and intellectually productive culture, and suggested that this could be a model for a future state.

Although, as he pointed out, this is not the policy of the PLO or the Palestinian Authority, it is a solution that should be seriously considered.

I have visited both Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and found, underneath the conflict, a vast fund of goodwill on both sides, which could be exploited to achieve it.

The West should stop pursuing the chimera of a two-state solution as if it were the only show in town, and seriously consider the option of a common state.

David W Forster, Liverpool

Benjamin Netanyahu announces a halt to the peace process in response to unity between Hamas and Fatah. How will we notice the difference?

There are no serious peace talks and never were; the Israelis continue to take more Palestinian land; Abbas isn’t strong enough to agree a deal that involves major concessions to Israel, which any final settlement is bound to include.

However, a unified Hamas-Fatah government might just be able to sell such a solution to the Palestinian people.

Netanyahu loves to say of the Palestinians that “they never miss an opportunity to miss an opportunity”. Now the opportunity of a lifetime is staring him in the face: a Palestinian government with enough authority to deliver a solution. The question is: is he strong enough to seize it or is he going to do the usual politician thing and settle for the comfortable option of doing nothing while blaming others?

John Sears, Brentford, London

The front page of The Independent is where I expect to receive news, not opinions. Robert Fisk’s report of the cessation of the talks between Israel and the Palestinians was a biased summary.

One gets the impression from his article that if only Mr Fisk were in charge of running US foreign policy, then he could have made peace within a few days. For some reason, he is being ignored by policy-makers.

Please try to save the front page for objective news reporting.

Dr Stephen Malnick, Rehovot, Israel

Welcome step towards low-carbon energy

We at the Institution of Engineering and Technology welcome the announcement by the Department of Energy  and Climate Change of  private-sector investment  in eight major new renewable energy projects and hope that it will be the first of many.

If the policy is to supply 15 per cent of total energy from renewables by 2020, this is a welcome step in that direction. At present, renewables supply about 4 per cent of total UK energy use, and around another 2 per cent is already approved or under construction.

These latest contracts will add a further 1 per cent. Bearing in mind that to complete the final design, build and commissioning of a sizeable project takes three or four years, the renewable capacity that will be in service by 2020 will have to be given the go-ahead within the next two years or so – we need an announcement like this every couple of months for the next two years.

A diverse range of low-carbon energy projects needs to be accompanied by energy demand reduction and development of the underpinning electricity network infrastructure to create a fully functioning low-carbon energy system for the 2020s.

Professor Roger Kemp, Institution of Engineering and Technology, London WC2

Myopic and political intransigence are driving a scheme (“‘Breathtaking spending spree’ used to boost Green Deal”, 26 April) that is fundamentally flawed in every aspect.

If any of our politicians spent time reading the professional architectural and construction-industry press, they would have long ago abandoned such a deal. It doesn’t and never has stacked up, even if loans were at 0 per cent interest rates. I pity the 2,100 homes that have already been duped into the scheme.

We urgently need significantly to improve the energy efficiency of our homes, but not with this Green Deal.

Peter Gibson, Great Rollright, Oxfordshire

New Turkish visas are user-friendly

The article by Simon Calder “Turkish delights get tangled in red tape” (5 April) admirably portrayed the joy of the holiday season in Turkey, albeit with some misleading information regarding Turkey’s visa procedures.

The new system is neither expensive nor complicated. Most importantly, the e-visa system does not require the applicants to go through tiresome and time-consuming face-to-face visa interviews. The concerns that some holidaymakers would not be allowed on board their planes to Turkey because they did not know about changing visa procedures are misplaced. The visa-on-arrival practice will continue until we are certain that everybody is “on board”.

The three-minutes average time for obtaining an e-visa is not merely a claim but a fact of statistics generated from more than 1.3 million e-visa applications. Moreover, e-visa fee is cheaper than visa-on-arrival.

The article correctly pointed out that for “nationality” travellers from Britain must select “United Kingdom” rather than “British”. To correct this, the term “nationality” has been replaced with “country/region”. Family and group e-visa applications have already been introduced.

Since its launch in April 2013, more than a million people have obtained their visas through the e-visa system. Almost a quarter of the applicants are from the United Kingdom. We invite our British friends to try the e-visa system out for themselves and visit Turkey.

Unal Cevikoz , Ambassador, Turkish Embassy, London SW1

The subtext is: these actors lack training

Howard Jacobson (26 April) will have noticed that subtitles on foreign-language TV series actually make one pay attention to the dialogue. That may be one reason we find the plots more absorbing.

But the muttering and lack of clarity (realism?) which is so infuriating on much TV drama stems from a school of acting that relies on microphone technology to get round actors’ lack of stage training and experience. Stage acting requires good voice projection. TV does as well, but our TV-addicted producers and directors haven’t worked that out yet.

Martin Hughes, Winchester

Howard Jacobson’s suggestion that the BBC should attach subtitles to all its programmes and do away with sound altogether could perhaps be extended further by also doing away with the pictures.

The display of words alone could start a whole new trend, but a name for this innovation is obviously needed. Er, perhaps “books”?

Malcolm Marsters, New Malden, London

British version of Christianity

Is Britain a Christian country? Only if Christian is a synonym for a capitalist, military, industrial complex with lots of pomp.

Lee Dalton, Weymouth, Dorset

How to put the heat on a cold caller

A friend has a method with cold callers (letters, 26 April) which I’ve not had the chutzpah to try out myself.

He lets them talk on and on and then says, breathing heavily: “I say, your voice  is so sexy. What have you got on?”

Peter Forster, London N4

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