SIR – Dermot Meleady proposes (Southern Star, July 16th) that Israel’s territorial expansion is valid, on the grounds that the rest of Arab land (90 per cent desert) was left to Arabs after the imperial carve-up of the Ottoman Empire. On that principle I could justifiably exit him from his home, claiming that he has numerous cousins owning many other houses. Would any court of law support me?
Likewise, he implies that Palestinians are unreasonable in rejecting Israeli offers of settlement. These ‘offers’ have generally taken the form (continuing the analogy) – ‘Yes, I’ll allow you to live in the cellar – so long as you know your place’. Their considered generosity resembles that of Cromwell (to hell or to Connaught) and White South Africa (here’s your Bantastan – take it or leave it).
Quibbling over when Palestinians recognised the need to be identified as such is a red herring. Israeli insistence that they are ‘merely’ Arabs is an essential part of the pretence that they have no historic rights – that they are not essentially the same people who have inhabited that land since long before the name Palestine came into use, over 2,000 years ago.