Tuesday, April 22, 2008

AJ Congress on Carter initiative

Article follows my comments:

Israel has nothing to lose in working the deal with Hamas, not signing is simply missing an opportunity to see fruition of peace. 60 Years have gone by and the policies of leadership on both sides has not resulted in peace, security and hope. It is time to refresh the thinking. Mike Ghouse

AJCongress: Carter Meetings with Hamas Undermines Peace Process, Rewards Terrorism
April 22, 2008 — The American Jewish Congress today denounced last week’s meetings between former President Jimmy Carter and leaders of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas.

“By meeting with Hamas leaders, President Carter offered the terrorist group an unearned legitimacy and in so doing undermined the entire premise of international diplomacy on the Israel-Palestinian issue,” said AJCongress President Richard S. Gordon.

“The same conditions that applied to U.S. diplomatic contact with the Palestine Liberation Organization should be in effect with respect to Hamas as well,” Mr. Gordon said. These prerequisites have been stated in a new format by the Quartet representing America, Russia the European Union and the United Nations, as preconditions for the resumption of aid to any jurisdiction under Hamas control. To receive aid, a Palestinian government must renounce violence, recognize Israel and respect peace deals previously agreed to. “If these condition apply to aid,” Mr. Gordon said, “how much more so to high level diplomatic contacts?”

Mr. Gordon said that in launching his own personal diplomatic efforts President Carter appears to represent more than just his own views. “Jimmy Carter is not just a well known American figure; he is a former president of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize winner for his role in the 1979 Egyptian-Israel peace treaty,” Mr. Gordon pointed out. “So when he meets with Hamas leaders he is conferring on them a legitimacy they do not deserve.” As soon as his intention to hold talks with Hamas was announced, the State Department strongly but unsuccessfully discouraged Mr. Carter from attending these meetings.

Moreover, Mr. Gordon said, “Mr. Carter does not make American foreign policy anymore. He had his chance while he was president, over a quarter of a century ago. Instead of furthering the cause of peace, he is undermining it by adding his name and reputation to an organization known for murder, terror and bombing innocent civilians. Former presidents need to hold themselves up to a higher standard. Former President Carter’s actions are well below the standard we should expect from our former presidents.”

In defense of the trip, President Carter points to the “new” statement by Hamas that they support the establishment of a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders, in exchange for which they would agree to a ten year long cease fire.

“For one thing, there’s nothing new here,” said Mr. Gordon. “Hamas has already stated this position several times in the past. For another, Hamas is asking Israel to trade all of the disputed territories in exchange for ten years of quiet, after which Hamas would presumably continue the armed struggle to disestablish the State of Israel.”

“How do we know this? The most recent attempt to present Hamas in moderate terms acceptable for polite company with Western peace makers was the April 17 Washington Post column by the Hamas government foreign minister Mahmoud al-Zahar. The title, ‘No Peace Without Hamas’ is meant to suggest that there could be peace with Hamas’ involvement.”

Mr. al-Zahar who met with President Carter, praised the former president. “Now, finally, we have the welcome tonic of Carter saying what any independent, uncorrupted thinker should conclude: that no ‘peace plan,’ ‘road map’ or ‘legacy’ can succeed unless we are sitting at the negotiating table and without any preconditions.”

The AJCongress president said that “Even in this masquerade of moderation, Mr. al-Zahar could not restrain himself from insisting that time is on the side of those who want to destroy Israel, not live alongside it in a state of their own.” In his Washington Post column, Mr. al-Zahar wrote that ‘Our fight to redress the material crimes of 1948 is scarcely begun.’ The material crimes of 1948 is code for the establishment of Israel.

Mr. Gordon concluded, “President Carter’s foolishness has not served the cause of peace which can only be based on foundations that do not require Israel to disappear. The message is not ‘No peace without Hamas,’ but rather ‘No Peace With Hamas.’ Can Hamas change? We do not know. But we do know that giving them access for free encourages them to hold to their current extremist positions.”

The American Jewish Congress is a membership association of Jewish Americans, organized to defend Jewish interests at home and abroad, through public policy advocacy, in the courts, Congress, the executive branch and state and local governments. It also works overseas with others who are similarly engaged.

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