Dear Sir
If we needed final confirmation that the road map was flawed from the start, then the all too predictable resignation of Abu Mazen has provided it. There is one central reason for this current impasse - Yasser Arafat. Article 1 of the road map called for the Palestinian infrastructure to be dismantled. By refusing to give his Prime Minister the necessary control over security arrangements, Arafat has once again scuppered an opportunity for peace and shown his lack of credentials for statesmanship. For more than three decades, Arafat has been a respectable face of Palestinian extremism. Acts of terror, far from lowering his stature, have brought him tangible rewards and an attitude of political appeasement. Israel must now weaken the terror groups or risk being immersed in a war of attrition from which it cannot escape. At the same time, Arafat must be isolated and treated as a persona non grata. Only then can an independent, pragmatic Palestinian nationalist emerge to fulfil the key demands of the road map.

MYTHS IN THE MIDDLE EAST 17 September 2003

Dear Sir
Hilary Wise condemns those who persistently cling ‘to the old myths’ about Palestine before offering us her own set of myths. She cites from the campaign rally the demand that ‘dozens of UN resolutions which have been passed in support of Palestinian rights’ be implemented. This ignores the fact that a huge number have been passed by the General Assembly, all of which are mere expressions of opinion lacking any legal force. In any case, Israel has spent 25 years trying to implement resolution 242, which does not require unilateral Israeli concessions but a negotiated outcome with credible partners. Anwar Sadat and King Hussein were 2 such partners; Yasser Arafat certainly is not. Wise says the Palestinians have recognized Israeli sovereignty in its pre-1967 borders. If this is the view of the PA, why then did they not grasp the opportunity to create a state in the remainder of disputed territory at Camp David? Why do senior American officials present at the negotiations not share the view that the Israeli offer was at fault? If the offer was deemed unacceptable, why was no positive counter proposal put to Ehud Barak and Clinton? As Dennis Ross stated of Arafat, ‘For him to end the conflict is to end himself.’ Finally, Wise says that there must be a ‘myth of a constant threat’ to justify settlement activity. I fail to see how the continuous wave of suicidal terror against Israeli civilians since 2001 is anything other than a very real threat to innocent civilians. Peddling these gross distortions of the truth reflects not moral courage but wilful ignorance.

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