- ‘Do you hear the cry of the poor?’
The fate of millions of people in this war-ravaged corner of East Africa depends on an uncertain peace agreement signed this week. A former British government minister, just back from visiting refugee projects in the area, assesses the country’s prospects
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With regard to Bruce Kent’s letter (The Tablet, 9 August), it should be noted that the occupation of Gaza ended in 2005, and the sole cause of the remaining restrictions is the hostility and rockets of Hamas; that Israel has from the start given equal legal rights to all its citizens, and there are Arabs in the Knesset and the judiciary, and an Arab ambassador; that Israel's borders can be finally fixed only after the signing of a peace treaty; that there is agreement between the two sides that a treaty must include evacuation of some settlements and compensation for the rest, and the obstacles to peace are elsewhere; and that, while both sides must take some blame for the lack of a two-state solution, the biggest obstacle is the refusal of the Palestinian leadership to guarantee that their state would not be used as a springboard for attacks on Israel.
Harry Lesser, Cheshire
Your editorial of 2 August, “There can be no victory without justice”, takes no account of the fact that Israel has kept Gaza locked up since 2006. In early June I visited Bethlehem University, which no students from Gaza can attend because they are not allowed to pass. A man whose family still live in a 66-year-old refugee camp south of Bethlehem where Israeli soldiers make regular forays using the inmates for target practice with their rubber bullets, said “Is it any wonder that people throw stones at the soldiers?” The frustration is palpable.
There can be no justice in this fractured, tortured part of the world while the rest of the world forgets that a handful of zealous Zionists manipulated the British Government into the 1917 Balfour Declaration, which led to an ethnic cleansing of Palestine with hundreds of centuries-old Palestinian villages destroyed. In 1948 when the Jews were still just five percent of the population, the Zionists were demanding more than 55 percent of the land - in fact they wanted all of it. Had justice been done at this juncture and the Zionists put in their place, I suggest the whole of the Middle East would be a vastly different and much more peaceful place.
Cecil McNeill, Wellington, New Zealand