IF Benjamin Netanyahu has any concept of shame, he should be resigning as Prime Minister of Israel, as he has clearly failed in his principal objective of bringing security to his country, and thereby also peace to his country and its neighbours.

The deaths of some 1,400 Israelis and the abduction of more than 200 Israelis all at the hands of Hamas are just the most recent example of a long list of failures on the part of Prime Minister Netanyahu. He has been Prime Minister for around 13 of the last 14 years, and he also served as prime minister for another three years in the 1990s.

During his period in office from March 2009 to June 2021 there have been at least four occasions on which the cauldron of Israeli-Palestinian relations boiled over, and all of these have involved bloodshed to a greater or lesser extent.

It is a well-recognised principle of both business and politics that if you keep taking the same actions, you are going to keep getting the same results, unless of course circumstances have changed. In defiance of this principle the Israeli government has repeatedly pursued a policy of trying to increase its national security by the use of force.

So what will happen if the Israeli Defence Forces succeed in their current objective of exterminating Hamas? It will certainly breed resentment, and sadly within the next 10 years there will almost certainly be yet another bloody boiling over of the cauldron of Israeli-Palestinian hostility. Once again Prime Minister Netanyahu's policy will have failed.

To bring real security to Israel and Palestine will involve both sides in having serious peace talks - and these in turn will have to tackle thorny subjects such as the Israeli settlements on the West Bank. Even if peace talks were to start immediately, they will not be easy and hence they will also be prolonged. But none of this means that they must not happen.

Another important, but seldom mentioned, thorny subject is the growth of population in the area. This of course leads to competition for land, which is yet another cause of strife. Unfortunately excessive population growth is yet another problem which cannot be sorted overnight.

To give some examples, the combined population of Israel and Palestine appears to have grown around six times over the 70 years from 1950 to 2020. Furthermore, fertility rates in both Israel and Palestine are high at 2.9 and 3.6 births per woman respectively – and to put this in context the United Kingdom fertility rate is 1.6. Is it therefore any wonder that half of the population of Gaza is believed to be under the age of 18?

In short, what is needed is a complete change of policy from the failures of Prime Minister Netanyahu, and that in turn will depend upon the realisation by the Israeli electorate that his policies have indeed failed, and will continue to do so.

Stewart Noble, Helensburgh.

Read more: Gaza: Bombing Palestinians won't solve this conflict

Tourist tax is the way forward

I WAS dismayed to see in this morning’s edition that yet again representatives of the hospitality industry are opposing the introduction of a tourist tax ("Ministers warned tourism will be hit hard by tax plan", The Herald, October 31). This time it is the Airbnb sector claiming (without a shred of evidence) that such a tax will damage the tourist trade.

You have previously kindly published letters from me on the issue of such a tax. To repeat my arguments, my wife and I have been fortunate enough over the past few years to have visited several European countries. In addition, we have been making regular trips to Japan to visit our two sons who live and work in Tokyo. Without exception, it is standard practice in all of the countries that we have visited to have a local "bed tax" added on to your hotel bill. This is a standard nightly charge, not a variable one, thus making administration much simpler. (It is worth noting that Airbnb is in operation in these countries as well.) It has been claimed that such a tax would discourage visitors from coming to Scotland. I just simply cannot accept this as an argument. The addition of such a tax on our overseas hotel bills has never been seen by us as a deterrent. Visitors will continue to flock to Scotland in very large numbers. VisitScotland reports that in 2022 a total of 3.2 million visits were made to Scotland by international visitors, staying for 29.7m nights. With over 12m visitor nights per year in Edinburgh, such a modest charge, equivalent to the cost of a cup of coffee, would raise some £25m annually for the city. The whole of Scotland would benefit considerably. We simply cannot afford to continue to delay the introduction of a tourist tax.

At a time when public services have been under such strain and faced with the grim prospect of yet more cuts to come, then surely now is the time to add to the funds available to our local authorities. Visitors expect to find decent public services: empty litter bins, clean streets, accessible public toilets and welcoming tourist attractions. A tourist tax is surely a better way to pay for them than landing the bill on the over-burdened taxpayer?

Eric Melvin, Edinburgh.

Puzzling ferry posers

HAVING read Martin Williams report about the problem that has now arisen with the MV Alfred not being able to use the berthing facility at Stornoway ("£1m-a-month relief ferry ‘cannot fit harbour on busy route", The Herald, October 31), I am confused and seek clarity.

If the MV Caledonian Isles is going to be used elsewhere on CalMac routes, possibly the Ullapool to Stornoway service and this ship fits the Stornoway berth, why doesn't the Alfred?

MV Alfred has been proven on the Ardrossan to Brodick route, which is the Caledonia Isles main route. Therefore, if the Alfred fits the Clyde berths, why doesn't it fit the Hebrides berths?

Have the new Turkish ferries been designed to fit all of the terminals? Being aware of all of the lack of design diligence on the Ferguson Marine builds, it is worth asking this question.

Ian Gray, Croftamie.

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Let's free up Buchanan Street

IS it not about time Glasgow gave Buchanan Street back to the retailers? The weekend shopping experience upon Glasgow’s supposed premier retail destination is nothing short of abysmal. At the same time George Square is significantly under-utilised.

Dedicate Buchanan Street to those with shopping bags, and allow or even compel those with banners, soap boxes and such like to set up in George Square.

You can be sure shoppers and retailers alike would embrace such a development.

Nicholas P Naddell, Glasgow.