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Jimmy Carter: Colonization of Palestine Precludes Peace

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    Colonization of Palestine Precludes Peace By Jimmy Carter TomPaine.com Thursday 09 March 2006 http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042406J.shtml Former US
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 25, 2006
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      Colonization of Palestine Precludes Peace
      By Jimmy Carter
      TomPaine.com
      Thursday 09 March 2006
      http://www.truthout.org/docs_2006/042406J.shtml


      Former US President Jimmy Carter led The Carter Center/National
      Democratic Institute observation of the Palestinian elections in
      January.

      For more than a quarter century, Israeli policy has been in
      conflict with that of the United States and the international
      community. Israel's occupation of Palestine has obstructed a
      comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land, regardless of
      whether Palestinians had no formalized government, one headed by
      Yasir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, or with Abbas as president and Hamas
      controlling the parliament and cabinet.

      The unwavering U.S. position since Dwight Eisenhower's
      administration has been that Israel's borders coincide with those
      established in 1949, and, since 1967, the universally adopted U.N.
      Resolution 242 has mandated Israel's withdrawal from the occupied
      territories. This policy was reconfirmed even by Israel in 1978 and
      1993, and emphasized by all American presidents, including George W.
      Bush. As part of the Quartet, including Russia, the U.N. and the
      European Union, he has endorsed a "Road Map" for peace. But Israel
      has officially rejected its basic premises with patently
      unacceptable caveats and prerequisites.

      With Israel's approval, The Carter Center has monitored all
      three Palestinian elections. Supervised by a blue-ribbon commission
      of college presidents and distinguished jurists, they have all been
      honest, fair and peaceful, with the results accepted by winners and
      losers.

      Hamas will control the cabinet and prime minister's office, but
      Mahmoud Abbas retains all authority and power exercised by Yasir
      Arafat. He still heads the PLO, the only Palestinian entity
      recognized by Israel, and could deal with Israeli leaders under this
      umbrella, independent of Hamas control. He has unequivocally
      endorsed the Quartet's Road Map. Post-election polls show that 80
      percent of Palestinians still want a peace agreement with Israel and
      nearly 70 percent support Abbas as president.

      Israel has announced a policy of isolating and destabilizing the
      new government (perhaps joined by the United States). The elected
      officials will be denied travel permits, workers from isolated Gaza
      barred from entering Israel and every effort is being made to block
      funds to Palestinians. The Quartet's special envoy, James
      Wolfensohn, has proposed that donors assist the Palestinian people
      without violating anti-terrorism laws that prohibit funds from being
      sent directly to Hamas.

      In the short run, the best approach is to follow Wolfensohn's
      advice, give the dust a chance to settle in Palestine and await the
      outcome of Israel's election later this month. Hamas wishes now to
      consolidate its political gains, maintain domestic order and
      stability and refrain from any contacts with Israel. It will be a
      tragedy - especially for the Palestinians - if they promote or
      condone terrorism.

      The preeminent obstacle to peace is Israel's colonization of
      Palestine. There were just a few hundred settlers in the West Bank
      and Gaza when I became president, but the Likud government expanded
      settlement activity after I left office. President Ronald Reagan
      condemned this policy, and reaffirmed that Resolution 242
      remained "the foundation stone of America's Middle East peace
      effort." President George H.W. Bush even threatened to reduce
      American aid to Israel.

      Although President Bill Clinton made strong efforts to promote
      peace, a massive increase of settlers occurred during his
      administration, to 225,000, mostly while Ehud Barak was prime
      minister. Their best official offer to the Palestinians was to
      withdraw 20 percent of them, leaving 180,000 in 209 settlements,
      covering about five percent of the occupied land.

      The five percent figure is grossly misleading, with surrounding
      areas taken or earmarked for expansion, roadways joining settlements
      with each other and to Jerusalem and wide arterial swaths providing
      water, sewage, electricity and communications. This intricate
      honeycomb divides the entire West Bank into multiple fragments,
      often uninhabitable or even unreachable.

      Recently, Israeli leaders have decided on unilateral actions
      without involving either the United States or the Palestinians, with
      withdrawal from Gaza as the first step. As presently circumscribed
      and isolated, without access to the air, sea or the West Bank, Gaza
      is a nonviable economic and political entity.

      The future of the West Bank is equally dismal. Especially
      troublesome is Israel's construction of huge concrete dividing walls
      in populated areas and high fences in rural areas - located entirely
      on Palestinian territory and often with deep intrusions to encompass
      more land and settlements. The wall is designed to surround a
      truncated Palestine completely, and a network of exclusive highways
      will cut across what is left of Palestine to connect Israel with the
      Jordan River Valley.

      This will never be acceptable either to Palestinians or to the
      international community, and will inevitably precipitate increased
      tension and violence within Palestine and stronger resentment and
      animosity from the Arab world against America, which will be held
      accountable for the plight of the Palestinians.

      Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and others pointed out years
      ago that Israel's permanent occupation will be increasingly
      difficult as the relative number of Jewish citizens decreases
      demographically both within Israel and in Palestine. This is obvious
      to most Israelis, who also view this dominant role as a distortion
      of their ancient moral and religious values. Over the years, opinion
      polls have consistently shown that about 60 percent of Israelis
      favor withdrawing from the West Bank in exchange for permanent
      peace. Similarly, an overwhelming number of both Israelis and
      Palestinians want a durable two-state solution.

      Casualties have increased during the past few years as the
      occupying forces imposed tighter controls. From September 2000 until
      March 2006, 3982 Palestinians and 1084 Israelis were killed in the
      conflict, and this includes many children: 708 Palestinians and 123
      Israelis.

      There is little doubt that accommodation with Palestinians can
      bring full Arab recognition of Israel and its right to live in
      peace. Any rejectionist policies of Hamas or any terrorist group
      will be overcome by an overall Arab commitment to restrain further
      violence and to promote the well-being of the Palestinian people.

      Down through the years, I have seen despair and frustration
      evolve into optimism and progress and, even now, we need not give up
      hope for permanent peace for Israelis and freedom and justice for
      Palestinians if three basic premises are honored:

      1. Israel's right to exist - and to live in peace - must be
      recognized and accepted by Palestinians and all other neighbors;

      2. The killing of innocent people by suicide bombs or other acts
      of violence cannot be condoned; and

      3. Palestinians must live in peace and dignity, and permanent
      Israeli settlements on their land are a major obstacle to this goal.

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