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PRESIDENT IS RIGHT TO WARN SHARON ON WEST BANK PLANS

Hooray to President Bush for warning Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon about plans to add 3,500 units to the West Bank settlements. Now let's hope Bush backs it up -- perhaps by threatening to hold back some of the billions in foreign aid we send to Israel. The issue of the settlements is one of the most contentious issues separating the two sides, and to anyone hoping for a just and peaceful settlement between the Israelis and Palestinians, increasing the settlements is like pouring gasoline on a fire.

Unfortunately, it appears that this has been Sharon's plan all along: to distract attention with the Gaza withdrawal plan while he solidifies the Israeli hold on the West Bank. The Israeli West Bank settlements cut up Palestine into a hodgepodge of isolated enclaves -- making it impossible to establish a viable Palestinian state. Perhaps this is also part of Sharon's plan. If so, there can be no peace.

Eric A. Gallion

Blasdell