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Barry Walsh ( Letters, January 17 ) is misled if he thinks that what he calls “illegal settlements” – ie Jewish towns and villages in Judea-Samaria (aka the “West Bank”) – formed part of the Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinians. The Accords have nothing to say about the subject. The whole question was left to be discussed in future final status negotiations.
Neither is it true that there has been a “significant increase” in these settlements since Oslo. No new officially-approved settlements have been built since 1998. All construction since then has taken place within the boundaries of existing towns and villages.
As for the proportion of the area of Judea-Samaria comprising the Jewish towns, this has been variously estimated as 1.7% (B’Tselem), 1.36% (Peace Now) and 1.1% (senior Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat in 2011, on the basis of aerial photography).
So much for Mr Walsh’s charge that these towns make any Palestinian state “untenable”. Or is he suggesting that a Palestinian state must be “Judenrein” – cannot contain any Jewish minority?
It is worth recalling that in 2008, then prime minister Olmert proposed a plan for an independent Palestinian state that, among other things, would have incorporated these towns into Israel and in return given an equivalent area of Israeli territory to the Palestinians. The offer did not receive even a reply from Chairman Abbas.
Deputy Ambassador of Israel
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