So how can Britain's policy be explained? Did it know that the PLO had offered such deals, including on Jerusalem, while getting nothing but persistent rejection? For years, prime ministers and foreign secretaries have unequivocally backed these talks, pledging support for a two-state solution – a solution it appears the last two Israeli governments are not the slightest bit interested in.
The international community must make clear that the mega-settlements Israel has built on Palestinian land are illegal, including those in Jerusalem, and that the occupation of Palestinian land has to end. Britain should declare its total support for the draft UN security council resolution on settlements as part of a zero-tolerance policy towards these colonies. We should abandon the charade of these talks for an international approach that puts international law at its heart and not the whims of settler-led Israeli coalitions basking in the unstinting support of every US government.
Council for Arab-British Understanding
• Had the Israeli government been willing to accept the extraordinary offers made by the Palestinian negotiators, that would not have delivered peace because it would not have delivered justice. Israel refused to negotiate with the Arabs at the 1949 Lausanne conference and has behaved consistently ever since. The leaked documents confirm that there never was a peace process – and there never will be until there has first been a justice process.
The two-state solution favoured by the UN and the EU is still possible – just – but only if Israel will acknowledge the historical facts of 1947-49 and subsequently accepts the rule of law. Discussion must start with the situation in 1947 when the UN approved the partition, not with the situation now – nor even the situation in 1949. Unfortunately the evidence is clear that Israel will never do this voluntarily. An alternative solution is the creation of a single democratic secular state for all the citizens of Palestine/Israel, but that seems to be even less acceptable to Israel. Either solution will require very strong pressure from the west, which is urgent if further war is to be avoided.
• Your editorial (24 January) says that for Israel-Palestine talks to have a chance "Israel has to accept that a state created on 1967 borders, not around them, is the minimum price of an end to the conflict". But no foreseeable Israeli government will accept this premise without concerted pressure from complaisant allies, principally the US but also the EU and UK.
In Jerusalem last week, Foreign Office minister Alistair Burt was reported as rejecting early recognition for a Palestinian state on the grounds that it makes no sense to recognise a state without borders or capital. He also suggested that a UN resolution against settlements might delay direct negotiations. In other words, our government refuses to endorse the minimum legal framework for a two-state solution, preferring to start from illegal facts on the ground: an illegally occupied West Bank, an illegally annexed East Jerusalem and the redoubling of illegal settlements (up from 200,000 to 500,000 during the 18 years of so-called peace talks).
• UN security resolution 242 does not require Israel to withdraw to the 1967 borders. It states that Israel has to withdraw from "territories" (not "the territories") occupied in 1967, "to secure and recognised boundaries". The vast majority of Israelis support the principle of the territorial compromise. The only solution to the conflict remains the two-state solution, with the border following the 1967 line with minor modifications and land swaps. That border will be decided during negotiations between the parties.
Dr Jacob Amir
• Sarah Ludford (Letters, 24 January) is living in a fantasy world if she believes "having Ian McEwan in town talking to a bunch of intellectuals … may cause [the Israeli] government some discomfort".
The huge majority of Israeli intellectuals, who accept the occupation and its consequences, will not wish to discuss McEwan's critical views with him. Nor will the small minority who take a consistent stand against oppression, and support the cultural boycott of Israel.
That leaves McEwan's moral equivalents, the equivocating fence-sitters. On Monday, Wednesday and Friday they will criticise the occupation, while on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday they will justify Israel's wars. But on Sunday they may find time to commiserate with McEwan on the harsh plight of liberal intellectuals.
• Despite my admiration for John Berger, I think that he and his friends are wrong to take Ian McEwan to task for accepting the Jerusalem prize (Letters, 24 January). I can see no value in such boycotts. Academic and intellectual freedom is surely too important to be checked by politics.
• No surprise in the Israeli Turkel commission findings (Flotilla attack was legal, says Israeli inquiry, 24 January), but somewhat of an own goal seemingly widening the definition of self-defence to one that might be read to include the rockets sent from Gaza and other action in response to illegal settlements. Perhaps very convenient therefore that it has been overshadowed by the leaks of reported Palestine, Israel and US negotiations.