Jimmy Carter wrote an op-ed piece which was published by the Washington Post on February 20, 2006 concerning the sweeping success of the Hamas party in democratically held elections in Palestine, and the stunning reactions to this success by Israel and the United States. His suggestions in this piece appeal to reason. Excerpts follow:
During this time of fluidity in the formation of the new government, it is important that Israel and the United States play positive roles. Any tacit or formal collusion between the two powers to disrupt the process by punishing the Palestinian people could be counterproductive and have devastating consequences.
Unfortunately, these steps are already underway and are well known throughout the Palestinian territories and the world. Israel moved yesterday to withhold funds (about $50 million per month) that the Palestinians earn from customs and tax revenue. Perhaps a greater aggravation by the Israelis is their decision to hinder movement of elected Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council members through any of more than a hundred Israeli checkpoints around and throughout the Palestinian territories.
This common commitment to eviscerate the government of elected Hamas officials by punishing private citizens may accomplish this narrow purpose, but the likely results will be to alienate the already oppressed and innocent Palestinians, to incite violence, and to increase the domestic influence and international esteem of Hamas. It will certainly not be an inducement to Hamas or other militants to moderate their policies.
As you may already know, I personally believe the foreign policy of the United States with respect to the Middle East has been thoroughly bankrupt for the past several years and seriously deficient for much longer than that. Jimmy Carter, however, speaks with an eloquent and rational voice when he argues for, in effect, the application of respect and common sense to the current Palestinian situation.
Please click the headline to visit the Carter Center web site and read his words.