13 SEPTEMBER 2003, Page 34

Dividing Israel

From Deborah Maccoby Sir: Douglas Davis writes that the Palestinian leadership has a 'phased plan' which 'stipulates that whatever territory Israel surrenders will be used as a platform for further territorial gains until the "complete liberation of Palestine" is achieved' (Biological warfare, 6 September). Yet earlier in his piece Mr Davis also condemns the Palestinian leadership for turning down

Israel's offer to surrender territory at Camp David. If the Palestinians really do have this 'phased plan', why didn't they accept whatever territory was offered? The two accusations cancel each other out.

In fact, the Israeli offer at Camp David was not as generous as Mr Davis makes out. The West Bank would have been cut into two by roads going to Israeli army bases and settlements in the Jordan Valley; there was no equitable land swap (the Israelis' final offer was to annex 9 per cent of the West Bank and give only 1 per cent of Israeli territory in return); there would have been no Palestinian control of borders, water or air space; in Jerusalem, the Israelis would not allow Palestinian sovereignty over the Temple Mount and also wanted to keep large blocks of settlements which would have surrounded Palestinians with areas of Israeli sovereignty.

Mr Davis claims that Israel 'is committed to a two-state solution' and that 'the Palestinian leadership has refused to learn how to compromise'. The Palestinian leadership has made the historical compromise of recognising Israel on 78 per cent of Mandate Palestine. In contrast, the Israeli people have elected and are supporting the Sharon government, which has reinvaded virtually the whole West Bank and is evidently committed to preserving Greater Israel.

Deborah Maccoby

London E5