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Illegality of Israeli settlements open to dispute

DAVID McDowall (Write Back, July 25) refers to "illegal Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories [that] should never have been tolerated from the outset", as if their illegality were unquestionable. But this is open to dispute.

I would be more inclined to agree with him and other Palestinian sympathisers if the same degree of activity were devoted to exposing the peccadilloes of other countries.

The case of the Chinese government's deliberate policy of settling ethnic Chinese in 'occupied territories', such as Tibet and Sinkiang, springs to mind.

Unlike the Chinese, all Israel has done is to permit individual Israelis to reclaim property on lands seized by Jordan in 1948, or state lands allocated by the League of Nations under the San Remo treaty for close Jewish settlement.

Most Palestinians see any state arising from the current negotiations as a first stage of their taking over of the whole of Israel.

The position of the Palestinian Authority suggests a policy of ethnic cleansing that even the Chinese have not applied. The fact that Egypt and Jordan did precisely this in the portions of Palestine they occupied in 1948 shows that they are deadly serious.

The Israelis may be paranoid, but that does not mean their fears are unfounded.

MARTIN D STERN

Salford, Greater Manchester

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