- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 3, 2009

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

In a letter to the editor (“Build peace, not settlements,” Sunday), Ray Gordon said Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is “the root cause of the violence in the Middle East.” Mr. Gordon has his facts wrong. When the Arab states went to war with Israel in 1948, Arabs controlled the entire West Bank. For the next two decades, they remained at war with Israel even though there were no Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Shortly after the Six-Day War, Israel offered to return the entire West Bank to the Arabs in return for a peace treaty. The Arabs refused. A few years later, Israel returned the Sinai Peninsula to Egypt in return for a peace treaty. The Egyptians also offered to negotiate a peace treaty with the Palestinians, but the Palestinians refused to negotiate.

Following the Oslo agreement, Israel again sought a land-for-peace exchange, without avail. Near the end of Bill Clinton’s presidency, the Israelis offered to return almost all of the West Bank (plus part of Jerusalem and all of the Gaza Strip) in exchange for a peace treaty. Once again, the Arabs refused and instead started a terrorist campaign against Israel.

A few years ago, the Israelis returned the entire Gaza Strip to Arab control, uprooting all Jewish settlements there. However, this led not to peace, but to the Palestinians repeatedly shelling Israel from the Gaza Strip. In addition, in their first free elections, the Palestinians voted for a party (Hamas) whose leaders proudly proclaim they will never sign a permanent peace treaty with Israel.

The problem is not caused by Israeli settlements on the West Bank but rather by the Palestinians who wish to destroy the state of Israel.

MICHAEL H. HART

Crofton, Md.

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