letters | diplomatic tremors in the middle east

Netanyahu needs to lead with an eye toward two states

RE “RIFT widens between Israel and European allies” (Page A3, Dec. 4): In the wake of the international community’s overwhelming decision to grant Palestine status as a UN nonmember state, the Israeli government announced plans for 3,000 more settlement housing units in the occupied territories, and the resumption of planning and zoning work for the highly contentious E1 corridor. Construction in E1, rendering a contiguous Palestinian state extremely difficult, if not impossible, to achieve, would deal, as UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon describes it, “an almost fatal blow” to the dream of a two-state solution.

Yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office claims that the decision is in Israel’s “essential interests.” It appears that the prime minister is right only if those “essential interests” don’t include two states — a secure and viable homeland for the Jewish people side by side with a secure and viable homeland for the Palestinian people. If that’s what Netanyahu means — contrary to what the global community and most Israelis and Palestinians want — then he should say so. Otherwise, instead of punishing the Palestinians and offending Israel’s friends, Netanyahu should seize this tipping-point moment and show the statesmanship that making peace, and making history, require.

Michael Felsen

Jamaica Plain

The writer is president of Boston Workmen’s Circle.