Book Review: PALESTINE PEACE NOT APARTHEID : Jimmy Carter. Rated A.

December 18, 2006 by
Filed under: Uncategorized 

A Voice In The Wilderness.

Jimmy Carter was awarded the Noble Peace Prize in 2002 for the reasons given in the Nobel committee’s citation which begins as follows:

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2002 to Jimmy Carter, for his decades of untiring effort to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, to advance democracy and human rights, and to promote economic and social development. During his presidency (1977-1981), Carter’s mediation was a vital contribution to the Camp David Accords between Israel and Egypt, in itself a great enough achievement to qualify for the Nobel Peace Prize. At a time when the cold war between East and West was still predominant, he placed renewed emphasis on the place of human rights in international politics.

The balance of the citation can be found here. (click here)

Mr. Carter has now written a book published by Simon and Schuster in 2006 giving his opinion why peace between the Palestinians and the Israelis cannot be achieved under the conditions that presently exist.

First he points out that Hamas, Fatah, the Palestinian Authority under President Mahmoud Abbas and Yasser Arafat and the Israeli Government have all agreed at one time or another to a division into two states of the land called Palestine as it existed before 1948 to the borders existent in 1967. This is a general principle all parties ostensibly agree upon but the devil is in the details of execution.

The principal of “Right Of Return” is a condition of the Palestinians, along with just compensation for lands acquired as a result of the creation of the State of Israel. Many Palestinians still have deeds to property they owned in Israel for which they did not receive compensation.

If all Palestinians exercised a right of return to Palestinian land as it existed before 1948 there would be more Palestinians than Israelis in Israel. However, allegedly most Palestinians do not want to return but about 10 percent say they do. This would amount to three to four hundred thousand people and presumably this would be intolerable to the present population of Israel. The balance of the Palestinians alive today would live in the West Bank, Gaza or elsewhere in the Middle East or the world. Presumably the right of return would be limited to the West Bank or Gaza in any treaty.

The central theme of this book is that the present Israeli government is preventing a peaceable two state approach as stated above by building the wall. The wall is not being built along the 1967 borders of the West Bank but is three times as long as the 1967 border. It is being built on Palestinian land and snakes through the West Bank in a way that divides communities from their fields and in other ways that separate Palestinian not only from Israelis but also Palestinians. Also it divides the West Bank into economically unsustainable parts. Carter points out that the economically fertile Jordan River Valley in the West Bank was confiscated by the Israel after the 1967 war and settled by Israelis. The Palestinian owners have never been allowed to return or have been compensated.

Carter points out the many unjust social, legal and economic practices by the Israelis in the occupied lands since 1967 which create road blocks to any lasting settlement.

THE WALL WILL PREVENT PEACE.

He argues that the wall will never constitute the basis for a lasting settlement. It will not lead to peaceful coexistence but is an unjust measure by the Israelis to confiscate land in the West Bank and will always be an impediment to peace. Further it will prevent the Palestinians from ever developing a socially or economically viable state. Gaza his always been recognized as a place that is economically unsustainable on its own and Israel seems to have abandoned its settlement practices there but has intensified its grip on land in the West Bank. Land which is needed to established a viable Palestinian state.

It took great courage for former President Carter to state his opinion of why lasting peace is not obtainable in the Middle East between the Palestinians and Israelis under present conditions. He calls the policy underlying the erection of the wall comparable to the system of Apartheid in South Africa.

In doing so he has incurred the wrath of the Israeli lobby in the United States and has voiced opinions never heard before in mainstream American media. He has been attacked not on the rationale of his beliefs but personally as a man and a Christian.

Carter has raised questions about Israeli policies toward the Palestinians that appear to be the root causes of the conflict and unless the Palestinians have a viable state legally, socially and economically peace will remain unlikely.

Poverty and injustice is the incubator of suicide bombers and Carter believes this practice will go away once a sustainable independent Palestinian State is established within the 1967 borders.

While it seems that non-secatarian moderates on both sides may be in agreement as to the basis of a viable peace it is the extremists on both sides that prevent peace from becoming a reality.

Carter does not address this problem. It seems that extremists on both sides are strong enough prevent the compromises needed to achieve a lasting peace.

However it should be remembered that Carter’s opinions should not be dismissed lightly. In 1979 he was able to bring together Menachem Begin and Anwar Al Sadat (both men were involved in terrorist resistance to British rule. One in Palestine the other in Egypt) and concluded the Egypt- Israeli Peace Treaty which is still in force today. On this basis alone Carter’s opinions should receive serious consideration.

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