Good for Carter

By Stuart Littlewood

Things are going from bad to worse in the Holy Land while the international community does what it does best: twiddling its thumbs.

Israel’s blockade of Gaza brings UN aid to a standstill and ensures no ambulances can run. The UN says it is having to suspend deliveries of food and essential commodities to 860,000 of Gaza’s 1.4 million population due to fuel shortages. Gaza’s infrastructure, sewage treatment, water supply, electricity, public health and medicare are in meltdown. Children and undernourished, many people are dying for want of medicines and proper treatment, and few, if any, can earn a living. 

Gaza’s fragile economy lies in tatters, thanks to the connivers in Washington, London and Tel Aviv.

The UN Security Council meets to discuss the crisis in Gaza, which Libya’s deputy UN ambassador Ibrahim Dabbashi likens to a Nazi concentration camp, and Western representatives throw their toys out of the pram and head for the exit, among them Karen Pierce, the UK’s Deputy Permanent Representative.

Why did they feel an irresistible urge to leave? According to Ms Pierce: "A number of Council members were dismayed by the approach taken by Libya and do not believe that such language helps advance the peace process." Oh dear, a few robust words that smack of truth ‘dismayed’ the poor darlings and they promptly turned their backs on this, the most urgent of international problems…  Is that how our brave ‘representatives’ do business? 

Indeed, when was the last time they did their job in a way that made us proud?  Ms Pierce’s boss is Sir John Sawers, Permanent Representative of Great Britain to the United Nations. Here is the statement he made to the UN Security Council on January 30, 2008 … "We condemn the near daily rocket attacks out of Gaza, targeted at Israeli civilians, and we recognize that Israel has a right to self-defence against such attacks. But the closing of all crossings and restriction of the supply of fuel, food and other goods in order to create suffering among the civilian population is not the right response. We welcome the decision of the Israeli Government to resume fuel and food supplies to Gaza, and the Palestinians must address Israel’s security concerns and put an end to the launching of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza against Israel."

He readily condemns the tinpot rockets from Gaza but not the thousand-times-more-lethal assaults on civilians by Israel’s F-16s, helicopter gun-ships, armed drones and tanks. He won’t condemn the siege and blockade… it’s just "not the right response", tut-tut. And he’s far more concerned about Israel’s security than the Palestinians’.

A year ago Sawers, then political director of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office, was cooking up big trouble for the Iranians as revealed in a leaked letter to his buddies in France , Germany and the US … "Our own assessment here is that the Iranians will not feel under much pressure… they will need to know that more serious measures are likely. This means putting the Iran dossier onto a Chapter VII basis."

Chapter VII can make life utter misery for a country if people like Sawers say it poses a threat to peace – whether real or imaginary – especially if that country isn’t approved of by Israel. Let’s not forget the 13 years of US/UK-inspired draconian sanctions and bombings that wrecked Iraqi infrastructure, health, education and means of production, and all but brought the population to its knees. And that was before we compounded our rottenness by launching an illegal war and inflicting mega-deaths.

Right now the Collective Punishment School of international diplomacy is basking in the sadistic pleasure of the Gaza siege and resists all calls to intervene and put a stop to the Palestinians’ pain. Remember how they revelled in prolonging the agony of the Lebanese in 2006?

And what is this peace process Ms Pierce spoke of? Surely not the tired old ‘PP’ that everyone outside the diplomatic corps knows is dead, kaput, deceased…

The only real peace move is Jimmy Carter’s. Of course his initiative towards Hamas provokes squawks of panic from sadistic diplomats and others who are interested only in keeping the Arab-Israeli pot boiling. Robert Satloff, of The Washington Institute, says it "could represent just the first ripple of a tidal wave of dangerous and desperate initiatives designed to ‘save’ the Middle East peace process". Here’s another who clings to the defunct.

Hamas has not met the pre-conditions that merit dialogue (renouncing violence and recognising Israel’s right to exist, though no-one explains why they should unless Israel reciprocates), and Satloff reminds us how the Reagan administration refused to open dialogue with the PLO until, after 13 years, Arafat "uttered the magic formula". It would be folly, he says, for the US government to ask less of Hamas today than it asked of the PLO 20 years ago, and that Carter seems to have forgotten the most important lesson of 35 years of US-led peacemaking in the Middle East: "The road to a secure peace has no shortcuts".

Given the situation on the ground these last 60 years you could die laughing. There was scarcely a glimmer of meaningful peace before Carter’s trip. And the big lesson to be learned about the years of US meddling in the Middle East is that the lessons have still not been learned.

I say, "Good for Carter." He has done at a stroke what peace envoy Blair was too dim or cowardly to do and what all the gutless wonders who represent us at the UN are afraid even to contemplate.

While hell and disaster continue to stalk the Holy Land, a shortcut has to be found. Nowadays it takes good men like Jimmy Carter to bypass the stooge-infested diplomatic machinery and go straight to the nub of the issue, and connect with the key players.

We need more like him.

– Stuart Littlewood is author of the book Radio Free Palestine, which tells the plight of the Palestinians under occupation. He contributed this article to Visit:

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