Letter: Myths of peace

January 18, 2002

Raymond Cohen's review of Edward Said's The End of the Peace Process recycles two myths about the Oslo agreement ("Books, THES , January 11). The first is that it was the rightwing government of Binyamin Netanyahu that built settlements. Settlements in the West Bank and Gaza grew fastest under the left of Yitzhak Rabin, Shimon Peres and Ehud Barak.

The second is that the Camp David talks produced a reasonable deal for Palestinians in December 2000. The deal was for only about 66 per cent of the West Bank in four areas divided by Israeli roads and security installations. Of the remainder of the West Bank, about 9 per cent was to be annexed to Israel. The rest was to be negotiated over 20 years.

Said warned that Israel would use the Oslo agreement to continue to tighten its occupation of Palestinian land seized in 1967 and that the deal would not lead to Palestinian self-determination. He has been proved right.

While Cohen at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem can move easily to other Israeli universities, my colleagues at Birzeit University are often unable to reach their own university - let alone neighbouring universities in Nablus or Bethlehem. Oslo has become the mechanism for an apartheid-style system of pass laws and checkpoints.

John Strawson
School of Law
University of East London

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