Carter is Right: US Must Engage Hamas

By Mahmoud El-Yousseph

Newsflash: Carter denied permission into Gaza by Israel! The former U.S. president is currently on a peace mission in the Middle East as the head of Carter Center for Peace and not as a U.S. official.

His mission were to include various countries in the region to discuss: truce, prisoners exchange, the siege of Gaza, and reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. Other high-profile international figures including the prime minister of New Zealand, former South African president Nelson Mendela, and the former U.N. secretary-general Kofi Anan were to join Mr. Carter on his mission. 

Carter’s mission could have created unprecedented opportunity for peace which must not be lost if this generation and future generations are to be spared the tragedies of war.

The former president cares more about Israel than all 43 U.S. presidents. Thanks for his effort, Israel has signed peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 at Camp David. It was the first peace treaty with an Arab country. And that is how Israel shows its gratitude! It is an outrage that our former president has been shunned by the country that we handout 3 billion dollars in aid every year, which comes from my and your tax dollars.

To me, as American tax payer, that is an affront and slap on the face. Carter was allowed however by Israel to only tour the towns of Sderot and Ashkelon and visit a local hospital. 

It is amazing how the former president came under attack once the news of the trip was made public. Our Department of State and few members of our Israeli controlled Congress attacked Mr. Carter and mocked his mission and the prime minister of Israel refused to meet with him. 

But the brave Carter refused to budge, even as the other members of the delegation canceled under outside pressures. With rising tension in the Middle East, and our current president is a sitting duck unable to accomplish nothing, Jimmy Carter wanted to give peace a chance.

Telling Carter to "butt off" is undignified and disgracefull. Those who attacked the former president have nothing better to offer, except write fancy speeches and  look for photo ops and get free trips. Attempting to appease Israel and its powerfull lobby in the U.S. will only prolong conflict. 

Even Mahmoud Abbas, the subservient Palestinian president did not bother to meet our former president. Abbas has off course to obey the wishes of his Israeli benefactors and those of other donor-countries.

So what is the big deal about Carter meeting Hamas leaders- the truly elected representative of the Palestinian people?

Cater who himself monitored the Jan. 2006 Palestinian election in which Hamas scored a land slide victory, has certified the election as, fair, clean, and transparent.

America was able to end the Vietnam war only after it sat down at the table in  Paris Peace conference face to face with Vietnamese officials. Neither country at that time recognized the other. What grinds my gears is: President Bush has directed Egypt to negotiate a truce between Hamas and Israel, but when our former president did the very same thing, everyone started jumping up and down! Please, can someone explain this to me?

Let’s face it, in the last 8 years, 15 Israelis were killed to due to the rockets attack from Gaza. By contrast Israel has killed during the same time frame thousands Palestinian, mostly in Gaza. Israel’s history of violating the human rights of Palestinians long predates these rockets attacks. Here is a short list of these violations which all constitutes war crimes by Israel:

* The strangling and inhumane siege of 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.
* The continued detention of 11,000 Palestinians with no charges, no trial.
* Subjecting West Bank Palestinians to daily humiliation at 580 Check points.
* Land theft to be used for new settlement or building the "Separation wall."
* Using Palestinian men and children as a human-shield
* Targeted assassination, where Israel acts as a judge, jury, and prosecutor.
* Uprooting 700,000 olive trees by Israeli army and extremist settlers. 
* kidnapping detainee relatives and threatening to rape, their mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters by interrogator in order to obtain a confession.

This has been documented by Israeli and Palestinian human right groups, admitted by Israeli security service, and reported by Israeli daily Haaretz. You will not be able to read this in main stream news media, because once the siege of Gaza began and Israel turned off the light, US media started the news blackout.

Why put all the blame and the pressure on the Palestinian and bend backward to protect and shield Israel? Who articulates our foreign policy in the Middle East? Is it drafted in Tel Aviv or in Washington? It does not take a rocket scientist to figure it out, our Middle East policy is held hostage by the powerful pro Israeli lobby in the U.S.

That is the sad truth. No wonder why America’s image abroad has been tarnished. Our policy need to be re-examined, and it is time for new and fresh approach. If America wanted to be an honest broker between Israel and the Palestinians, it should talk to both sides and not favor one over the other. With such a policy and an attitude by our government, a genuine peace will never see the day light. 

A lasting peace will only be reached when the occupation ends and the settlements dismantled, the siege of Gaza lifted, and targeted assassination stopped, Palestinian prisoners free, showering rockets at Sderot and Ashkelon quit, and yes, captive Israeli soldier free.

All of this could only be accomplished through negotiation, to which courageous Carter is an expert at. Once again, Israel blew another chance for peace. And yes, the US needs to talk to Hamas.

-Mahmoud El-Yousseph is USAF Retired Veteran. He contributed this article to PalestineChronicle.com. Contact him at: elyousseph6@yahoo.com

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