What’s best for Israel
In response to the announcement that my position on Israel has been validated by the nation’s prime minister, Ehud Olmert, Buster Feldman (Aspen Daily News, Oct. 16) attempts once again to impugn my intelligence, degrade my character and put forth false assertions regarding Israel’s responsibility for the lack of progress in the peace process.
Feldman errantly claimed Olmert said Israel should be “willing” to give up this land in order to reach “an agreement” with the Palestinians. Olmert’s exact quote was; “What I am saying to you now has not been said by any Israeli leader before me.
“We have to reach an agreement with the Palestinians, the meaning of which is that in practice we will withdraw from almost all the territories, if not all the territories.”
The key phrase there is “in practice,” because though Israel’s leaders have repeatedly agreed to stop building settlements and withdraw from the occupied territories, in practice they’ve increased settlement building and expanded Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, thereby proving that they’ve had no intention of allowing the creation of a Palestinian state.
Feldman accuses me of believing “that the Israelis should just walk away without any kind of structure or agreement and then everyone would live happily every after.” I’ve never said anything close to that. What I’ve actually suggested is that Israel finally honor the agreements they’ve already made to turn over control of the West Bank to the Palestinians. These agreements were reached in the Oslo Accords, which Israel signed in 1993, and the Sharm el-Sheikh Memorandum, which Israel signed in 1999.
Until Israel actually ends its occupation of the West Bank, there can be no Palestinian state and thus, no peace.
Now it remains to be seen whether the peace process will be helped or hindered by Barack Obama’s choice of Rahm Emanuel as his chief of staff. Emanuel is the son of an Israeli Zionist; a former Irgun terrorist, who adopted his surname after his brother, Emanuel Auerbach, was killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem. Rahm Emanuel unquestionably and understandably loves and supports the land of his father. My hope is that he agrees with the majority of Israelis that ending the occupation and allowing a Palestinian state to be created is in the best interest of Israel.
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A driver looking to squeeze one last four-wheel drive up Aspen Mountain discovered that it’s not the ascent but the descent that poses a challenge.