In his recent letter to the editor, former Sen. Fritz Hollings referred to an "Israeli settlement on Palestinian land." This is inaccurate. Israeli settlements have been built on "disputed," not Palestinian land.

Eugene V. Rostow, former U.S. undersecretary of state, has written: "Israel is occupying the administered areas not only as the victor in the defensive wars of 1967 and 1973, but as a claimant to the territory ... pursuant to a legally binding decision, embodied in Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 ... that Israel should remain ... in these territories until the states of the area make a just and lasting peace with Israel." That includes recognition by the Arab states of Israel's right to exist and its right to live in peace within secure and recognized borders.

Although they will be an issue in negotiations, selective outrage focused on such settlements is not warranted and sidesteps the real issue. The real Israeli-Palestinian conflict isn't territorial; it is existential. Most Israelis are now prepared to live with a Palestinian state along their borders. Not so the Palestinians.

For Hamas, Tel Aviv is no less a "settlement" than the most makeshift Jewish outpost on the West Bank.

After Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, the land was turned into an Iran-based Hamas enclave. For nearly three years rockets were launched non-stop and mortar barrages directed against Israeli civilian sites - often schools. Since 2009 after the Obama administration made settlements a major issue, outrage has focused on Israeli building.

Before Hillary Clinton's trip in 2009, the Bush administration had given assurances that the United States would not insist on a return to the 1967 borders in any final deal with the Palestinians.

It is easy to dislike the settler movement. But there is no equivalence between apartment buildings in East Jerusalem and suicide attacks targeted against as many civilians as possible. American policy should recognize this.

Regarding Sen. Hollings' disapproval of Netanyahu's strong objection to the pending agreement with Iran to freeze Iran's nuclear power, to reduce its stockpile (and yet leave its nuclear infrastructure intact): Other entities, including France initially, have referred to the proposed agreement as a "sucker's deal."

No democracy in the world today has been under a darker shadow of existential dread than Israel. To place a nation's future existence on wishful thinking - that in this deal Iran will prove it is trustworthy - is perilous.

The Jewish national homeland cannot afford to fall in line meekly without verification of the removal of a nuclear threat at its doorstep.

Israel does indeed value a commitment from the United States. But in this age of shifting definitions, what does this really mean?

Barbara J. Ellison

Country Club Drive