Dennis Ross’ curious maps problem

Map courtesy of Foundation for Middle East Peace

To the Editor:

Dennis Ross’s [“Don’t Play With Maps,” 9 January 2007, The New York Times] concern over President Carter’s use of maps in Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid is curious.

The first of the maps on page 148 does indeed resemble an Israeli map — one presented at Eilat in May 2000. The Palestinians rejected it categorically then. Perhaps it was also presented in July 2000 at Camp David. That Israel should have presented it at all shows audacity — and little Israeli interest in peace. That it might have been presented again boggles the mind.

The second map seems a hybrid of one Israel presented in December 2000 and another at Taba in January, 2001. Barak recalled his representatives from the January discussions — arguably because they were going too well for an Israeli leader determined to annex larger sections of the West Bank than he was advertising. Israel’s propagandists, like Ross, prefer to pretend Taba never occurred.

One way or another, the mythology in question is not that of Carter or critics of Israel, but that of Ross and Israel’s supporters.

Ross, understandably for one perpetuating a myth, makes no mention of key features of the “generous” proposal he pretends was offered. That proposal would have annexed a large portion of an East Jerusalem taken from Palestinians. That “currently Jewish” Ross uses casually glosses over the fact of Israeli expulsion of Palestinians from homes in the city.

Ross also fails to mention either Israel’s intention to retain control of many water resources in the West Bank or its plan to annex large blocks of territory — illegally settled — in such a way as to leave a Palestine only barely contiguous, if at all. Small percentages can still be significant — hardly a point lost on Israelis or Americans. After all, if 3 percent (according to Ross alone) is so insignificant, why would Israel be so determined to keep it?

But let us suppose that Ross is entirely honest and accurate. Why should Palestians be required to surrender land illegally taken, occupied and settled by Israel?

Finally, Ross’s “generous” claim that he is not concerned with “what appeared to be … misappropriation” is fortunate. His book was first published in 2004. The Foundation for Middle East Peace published far more detailed maps of Barak, Clinton and other proposals in 2001. Where did Ross get his maps?


Hugh Sansom
Brooklyn, NY

Related Links

  • The New York Times
  • Foundation for Middle East Peace
  • BY TOPIC: Jimmy Carter