Ending this war begins with recognising Hamas: Carter, Robinson

Ahram Online , Wednesday 6 Aug 2014

The Elders members Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson weigh in on what they see as a 'humanitarian catastrophe' in Gaza

Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson
Jimmy Carter (L) and Mary Robinson (R) (Photo: Reuters)

In an article published on Foreign Policy's website, former presidents of the United States and Ireland – Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson – called for the recognition of Hamas as a "legitimate political actor" to end the Israeli war on Gaza.

The article, entitled "How to Fix It”, blamed Israel's rejection of the new Palestinian unity government announced last April as a "deliberate obstruction of a promising move towards peace in the region" has caused the ongoing "tragedy."

Both world leaders believed that Hamas made a "major concession" in the decision to open Gaza to be governed by a technocratic government that did not include any members of the Islamist group.

"Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government's deployment in Gaza," Carter and Robinson, also a former UN Human Rights commissioner, said.

The former presidents, who are members of The Elders – an independent group of global leaders who describe themselves as seekers for "peace and human rights" – urged lifting of the seven-year-old sanctions and blockade that isolate the 1.8 million people in Gaza.

 "There must also be an opportunity for the teachers, police, and welfare and health workers on the Hamas payroll to be paid. These necessary requirements for a human standard of living continue to be denied," they said.

They also stated that there is "no humane or legal justification" for the way Israel conducts this war, noting that bombs, missiles, and artillery have "pulverised" large parts of Gaza including thousands of homes, schools and hospitals.

Speaking to the lost access to water and electricity in the strip, Carter and Robinson stated that the situation of Gazans is a "humanitarian catastrophe" and called on the UN Security Council to limit the potential use of force by both sides.

"Ultimately, lasting peace depends on the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel", the article claimed.

Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for his decades of tireless effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, primarily exemplified by brokering the Camp David Accords between Egypt and Israel on September 1978.

The peace treaty was the first of its kind between Israel and an Arab state. Egypt's President Anwar Sadat and Israel's premier Menachem Begin were also awarded a Nobel Peace Prize in 1978.

However, Carter faced fierce criticism by pro-Israeli groups in 2007 for his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid." In the book, the former US president slammed Israeli policies towards the Palestinians including the erection of separation wall in the West Bank, comparing Israel to apartheid South Africa.

Egypt brokered a 72-hour truce on Tuesday between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian factions, a step within ongoing Cairo talks over a durable ceasefire.

Israeli ground forces withdrew from the Gaza Strip ahead of the truce, with a military spokesperson saying the main goal of destroying cross-border infiltration tunnels had been achieved, Reuters reported.

The Israeli war on Gaza has led to the death of 1,875 Palestinians since it began on 8 July.

On the Israeli side 64 soldiers and three civilians have been killed in clashes and shelling in and around the enclave.

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