In her criticism of Richard Cohen's June 15 op-ed column about Jeffrey Goldberg's New Yorker story that depicted Jewish settlers as mentally unstable religious zealots, Andrea Levin [letters, June 28] argued that the West Bank settlements are in accord with Israel's 1967 Allon Plan, which allowed for annexation of large segments of Palestine to protect Israel from Arab aggression. But the fact that Israel has followed this plan is a cause not for congratulation but for condemnation.

Contrary to Ms. Levin's suggestion, the settlements are not a defense against aggression; the Israeli army provides that defense by its occupation of the conquered territories, and its task is made more difficult by the settlements.

Further, the settlements are illegal under a Geneva Convention to which Israel is a signatory; the convention prohibits a conquering nation from settling its citizens in conquered territory. It makes no difference if the conquered territory arises from a defensive action or if the conquering nation has a historic claim on the land.

U.N. Resolution 242 also does not countenance the settlements. It merely makes it clear that Israel need not remove its army from all of the territories after a peace agreement has been reached. For example, a peace treaty might involve a swap of land between the Israelis and the Palestinians that will make the center of Israel easier to defend. Under such a treaty, Israel could give up some of its land adjacent to the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and in return get land on the West Bank now occupied by settlers.

At present, however, the settlements are an obstacle to peace and a source of Muslim support for al Qaeda. Hence, they are a threat to the well-being of not only Israel but also the United States.

ROBERT BLANDFORD

Alexandria