Road 60 to peace
Sir-- While Obama has said that Israel will not have to withdraw to the 1967 borders, nor accept any refugees, he has also said that a Palestine state must be viable, and this is only possible if it is contiguous. One glance at a map of the West Bank shows that almost all the major population centres -- Jenna, Nablus, Ramallah, Bethlehem, Hebron -- are linked by road 60. Obama must declare this "Zone A" as completely free of Israeli occupation. He must then publicly inform Israel that the US, the Palestine Authority, and UN forces led by US Gen Dayton, will be immediately relieving all Israel occupation forces in Zone A.
Road 60 is extremely close to the Israeli border. That is, once Israel is cut off from the rest of the West Bank, it will be caught behind enemy lines instead of outflanking them. Then, it can be offered a land swap, instead of the 1967 borders, but not only will this land (west of road 60) be of little or no value, but there must be a price to pay for disregarding international borders. That is, for every square kilometre that Israel wants in the West Bank, it must give up at least two square kilometres (not including desert) linking the West Bank and Gaza, and in Galilee. Also, there can be no gerrymandering. Thus, whether Israel accepts the 1967 borders, or decides to take a few kilos in the West Bank, the result will be indistinguishable.
This is the choice to be offered to Israel: To lose the West Bank, not only the "historic homeland" of Judea, but control over water resources, or be free to live in the West Bank, and jointly govern it -- and Israel -- with the native Palestinian population.
In addition to borders, there is the issue of refugees. It is not that hard to figure out what an equitable number would be. Israel has never absorbed much more than 100,000 immigrants a year. Also, these kinds of numbers threaten the demographic balance that preoccupies many Israeli minds.
On the other hand, considering that 750,000 Palestinians are estimated to have been driven from their homes, and their families now number in the millions, anything less than 75,000 a year absorbed by Israel would be inadequate. Even at that number, five or six other countries would have to absorb refugees at the same rate. In 10 years, the total would be 750,000, not threatening Israel's demographic balance in any way. Again, all this sequence starts with President Obama declaring road 60 a JOF-free zone, and acting on it.
Everything but the food
Sir-- In the restaurant review "Come hither Omar" ( Al-Ahram Weekly 9-15 July) we had a description of the place and ambiance, a run through of all the staff including the dark complexioned maitre d' (what was the significance of that?) and tips on the different ways to cook different types of fish. But what about the food?
There was a section on where the name came from. I have been in Egypt for many, many years but I can't be the only one who remembers when the Marriott was the old Omar Khayyam Hotel, hence the name. There was a very expensive open buffet but what did the reviewer choose? Was it good, bad or indifferent? Your guess is as good as mine. I always enjoy the review of the restaurants being an epicurean type myself (a polite way of saying downright greedy) but I do love to know what was tried. This review is the exact opposite, listing every possible permutation from the vast menu in the Asian restaurant.