To the Editor:
Hillel Halkin’s otherwise insightful critique of the Geneva Accord [“Beyond the Geneva Accord,” January] suffers from a glaring oversight: demography, the issue that has driven erstwhile right-wingers like Ehud Olmert, Tzipi Livni, and Uzi Arad to support disengagement from the West Bank and Gaza. Rapid growth in the Palestinian population has been the fulcrum of left-wing peace proposals since the early 1970’s, from the Allon Plan to the Yariv-Shem Tov formula, from Camp David to Geneva. Unrealistic as leftist hopes for reconciliation with the Palestinians may be, the pragmatic position of Labor Zionism in favor of partition has defeated by a knock-out the Right’s ideological fantasy of greater Israel.
Given that Mr. Halkin himself endorses the Israeli security fence, is his passing nod to settler protestations against a “Judenrein” West Bank mere cover against charges of defeatism? Has he joined Shimon Peres in questioning Israel’s squandering of untold billions on soon-to-be-abandoned settlement infrastructures? Has he come to doubt the wisdom of shifting thousands of Jews to the dunes of Gaza and the craggy hills of Samaria while losing the Negev to Bedouin settlement? No need to apologize, Mr. Halkin. Just help us start clearing the wreckage of a misconceived policy.
Zur Hadassah, Israel
To the Editor:
Hillel Halkin offers yet another in a series of devastating critiques of the Geneva Accord that have appeared in print. But while Mr. Halkin contributes his usual eloquence, he and others miss a critical shortcoming of the pact. Even if the Accord were deemed absolutely perfect from the perspective of Israelis, it would make no difference, because the Palestinians are given a free pass to violate every agreement they sign. If there are no funds to back up the checks, it does not matter how professionally they have been printed.
Far Rockaway, New York
Hillel Halkin writes:
Sam Shube’s point about demography escapes me. I wrote in my article that, in an ideal solution, Jewish settlers would be allowed to live in a Palestinian state just as Palestinians live in a Jewish state. Since these Jews would remain citizens of Israel, and their Palestinian neighbors would be citizens of Palestine, what demographic disadvantages for a Jewish state would this have? But, alas, I agree that all this is now academic. The time for ideal solutions has passed. Demography dictates that Israel build its security fence to include as many Jewish settlers and as few Palestinians as possible. Settlers beyond the fence will have to be evacuated.
To Yehuda Rostker I would say that, under the Sharon government, the policy of giving the Palestinians “a free pass to violate every agreement they sign” has come to an end. I myself, at least, have not noticed any such “free passes” lately. If an agreement with the Palestinians, therefore, were “absolutely perfect” from an Israeli perspective, and if a government with the resolution of the current one could be trusted to enforce it, I would be inclined to take the risk. But again: this is now academic.