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Other Views of a Middle East Peace Conference

The opinion-page article ``No Mideast Conference,'' Feb. 6, demolishes what is already widely viewed as illusory, an ``all parties'' Middle East conference. If the Gulf tragedy has taught us anything, it is that the conference that determines the international view of a regional conflict must consist principally of great powers, not of parties in conflict. It is a ``justice'' model, not a ``negotiation'' model, of conflict resolution.

The tragedy of Israel and Palestine may be traced back to the days following the 1947 UN partition when the UN was unable to agree to use international power to secure peace or prevent injustice. In the absence of agreement, the stronger party has prevailed, but for 42 years the problem has not been solved.

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In contrast to its decisive treatment of Iraq's weeks-old occupation and annexation of Kuwait, the Security Council has dithered in regard to Israel's 23-year-old occupations and annexations of Palestinian, Syrian, and Lebanese territories.

Peter Belmont Lexington, Mass.

The author suggests a piecemeal approach to a resolution of problems in the Middle East. But, as is well known, Israel rejects dialogue or compromise with its neighbors. Should the world wait for years on a piecemeal approach until Israel settles its score with its neighbors? Years of protracted negotiations could very well result in our winning the battle against Saddam Hussein and losing the war in the Middle East. Would it have been worth it?

Anna A. Vinson Pleasant Ridge, Mich.

The author does not see that the same difficulties that would undermine the success of a grand conference would also undermine piecemeal conferences. The difficulties would not be avoided by making the conferences smaller. A grand Middle East conference should get under way with agreement by all parties to a few ``grand'' principles. Things like collective security for all nations and people, cessation of military escalation, and guarantees of human rights.

Instead of a piecemeal approach, we need a grand plan that everyone can support. The pieces then must be fitted to that plan.

Philip Crist Pisgah Forest, N.C.

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