6 NOVEMBER 2004, Page 36

Israel's rapacious wall

From Deborah Maccoby Sir; Anton La Guardia CA just wall', 30 October) is spot-on in pointing out that Israel's brutal wall is pushing the Palestinians 'into reservations'. I have just returned from a week in Bethlehem, where I was warmly welcomed as a Jewish participant in the Olive Harvest Campaign, which calls on international volunteers to help the Palestinians harvest their olives in the face of harassment from the Israeli army and settlers. I have seen for myself how the wall is stealing Palestinian land and driving the Palestinians into ghettoes.

However, I disagree with Mr La Guardia's contention that the Palestinians are 'co-authors of their own tragedy' and therefore, he implies, equally to blame, as a result of the suicide bombings. This ignores Arid l Sharon's deliberate provocation of Hamas by assassinating its leaders — notably just after the signing of the road map. Hamas has several times offered a ceasefire if Israel will stop its assassination policy; the Israeli response has been more assassinations. To point this out is not to support the suicide bombings; of course they are immoral and counterproductive. But imagine what would have happened if, during the Good Friday Agreement negotiations, the British government had assassinated Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness. The IRA would have responded with a brutal bombing campaign on the British mainland. Such a reaction would have been unjustifiable, but the ultimate responsibility would have rested on those who had deliberately wrecked the chance for peace.

Deborah Maccoby

London ES