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In his editorial "The Hill of Evil Counsel" (March 8) Mr. Adam J. Levitin provides a masterpiece of factual distortions and occasional convenient omissions. Levitin asserts that Israel is correct under international law to build anywhere in Jerusalem; he asks rhetorically: "What other nation in the world is criticized for building a new neighborhood in its capital?"
Here is a parallel question: "What other nation in the world has a self-proclaimed capital recognized by only four other countries?"
The world community today, supported by numerous Security Council resolutions, affirms that East Jerusalem is occupied territory under international law and is part of the Palestinian land occupied by Israel in 1967. Israeli actions are in defiance of the Geneva conventions which prohibit settlement activity on occupied territory.
I wonder what "International Law" Mr. Levitin is referring to in his article?
The United States stands alone (together with El Salvador, Zaire and Costa Rica) in recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. All the other countries who have diplomatic ties with Israel have refused to do so, and have their embassies based in Tel-Aviv rather than Jerusalem. (Currently, the U.S. has its embassy in Tel-Aviv, but that is likely to change given the change in policy towards Jerusalem.)
Last week, the U.S. used its veto power against the will of all the other members of the UN Security Council in rejecting a resolution condemning Israel's illegal actions in East Jerusalem. Despite all this, Levitin questions Clinton's pro-Israeli policies.
Levitin's assertion that the new settlement "is to provide housing for Jerusalem's expanding Arab and Jewish population" is simply false. The settlement on Har Homa is to be used exclusively for Jews. What the Palestinians did get were promises from the right-wing government of future investigation into the Palestinian housing problem in the city.
Levitin is correct when he flexes his legal expertise on the Oslo accords by noting that the building on Har Homa does not violate the literal word of the agreement. However, the accords do state that Jerusalem will be on the agenda of the final status negotiations between the Palestinians and Israel; Israel has agreed that status of Jerusalem is left for bi-lateral negotiations.
Israel's actions in Jerusalem are pre-empting the result of any such negotiations. Here is a simple analogy: while you and I are trying to agree on how split a cake between us, I go ahead and eat it!
In citing that 348 out of the 460 acres of land on Har Homa were owned by Jews prior to 1948, Levitin is playing a dangerous game. Does Levitin think that Israel should re-instate the pre-1948 land ownership contracts?
Considering that areas amounting to 80% of Israel proper are lands confiscated from the Palestinians under ad hoc absentia laws (including property owned by the Israeli Parliament in West Jerusalem, and parts of the Ben-Gurion International Airport); would Levitin be also willing to extend his argument to non-Jewish (i.e. Palestinian) lands? or have I missed something here?
It is through the recognition that no one side has an exclusive right over the Holy City, that true peace could be achieved. Israel's actions, and Levitin's argument take one step away from any such peace. --Ramy M. Tadros '96, president emeritus, Harvard/Radcliffe Society of Arab Students
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