After repeated protest to the editorial staff of The Herald, my response, with significant small portions removed, was finally published today!!


Ismail Zayid


Shouldn’t both sides meet demands?

By ISMAIL ZAYID                           The
Halifax Herald.               Feb. 28, 2007

The editorial "No closer to peace" (Feb. 20) and Paul Schneidereit’s column "It’s a matter of having the right to exist" (Feb. 20) display an extraordinary indulgence for Israel by making excuses and justification for its policies, which are in violation of international law.

Both demand the Palestinian government, led by Hamas, recognize Israel’s right to exist. Hamas has accepted, in the recent Mecca accord, the two-state solution – thus, in essence, recognizing Israel’s existence.

However, should the editorial writer and columnist not also ask that Israel recognize the Palestinian state’s right to exist within secure borders, under its democratically elected government, without Israel’s continuing actions to annex Palestinian territory?

Both demand Hamas renounce violence; Hamas, in fact, has declared a longstanding truce. Should Israel not also be required to renounce violence, including targeted assassinations of Palestinian leaders and repeated military incursions into the West Bank and Gaza, killing hundreds and demolishing thousands of homes?

Hamas is being required to abide by previous agreements, which Hamas has declared, in the Mecca accord, its willingness to respect. Should Israel not also be required to abide by previous agreements with the Palestinians, especially those that barred the establishment of new Israeli illegal settlements and the expansion of the existing ones in the West Bank? The expansion and creation of new settlements are in defiance of the Oslo accord of 1993, with the Palestinians, and the requirements specified by the quartet of the U.S., UN, Russia and the EU. Strangely, none of these demands is being asked of Israel.

The lack of peace in this tortured land is blamed on Hamas. Yet, Hamas came to authority only one year ago. There is no peace there because of the illegal, oppressive Israeli occupation that has been allowed to stand for 40 years, in defiance of international law and repeated Security Council resolutions. Why is there no clear demand of Israel to comply with Security Council resolutions? Resolution 242 is stipulated as the basis for the Oslo accord and the quartet road map.

Mr. Schneidereit describes as sophistry the call for Israel to define its borders to allow for recognition. Israel’s leaders refused to define its borders when it was created in May 1948. The first Israeli prime minister, David Ben Gurion, had plans for expansion, after Israel had already conquered 50 per cent of the territory apportioned for the Palestinian Arab state by the UNGA Partition Resolution 181 of Nov. 29, 1947. The plans for expansion continued in the wars Israel waged against its neighbours in 1956, 1967, 1978, 1982, and in recent designs expressed by Ehud Olmert. Israel is the only state in the world that has no defined borders and refuses to define them.

Mr. Schneidereit states: "The nation of Israel is recognized by the United Nations and countries around the world." Perhaps it is relevant to remind Mr. Schneidereit that Israel was admitted to the UN on the basis of UNGA Resolution 273 of May 11, 1949, which required Israeli implementation of UN Partition Resolution 181 and UN Resolution 194 of Dec. 11, 1948, explicitly stipulating the right of return for the Palestinian refugees who were expelled or fled from their homes. Neither of these two conditions has been implemented by Israel.

Peace and security for Israelis and Palestinians must be attained in this tortured land. This will be achieved only if Israel is made to comply with international law and UN resolutions, and the Palestinians accept living in peace with their Israeli neighbours.

Ismail Zayid, MD, is president, Canada Palestine Association.