[HCCN] President Carter talking with Aljazeera

Judy Robbins jrobbins at mainecoastmail.com
Sun Feb 1 20:00:49 EST 2009

Carter says Hamas must be included

Israel's 22-day assault on Gaza has left the Palestinian territory  
devastated [Reuters]
Jimmy Carter, the former US president, has said any future permanent  
Israeli-Palestinian agreement has to include Hamas, the Palestinian  
movement that controls the Gaza Strip.

Carter also told Al Jazeera's Riz Khan on Wednesday that US  
presidents were unable or unwilling to take on Israel's supporters in  
the US, but said he had high hopes for George Mitchell, the new US  
Middle East envoy.

The former US leader said there was "no way to have a permanent peace  
in the Middle East without the inclusion of Hamas".

"Hamas has got to be involved before peace can be concluded."

Carter said reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah, the faction led  
by Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, had been "objected to  
and obstructed by the US and Israel".

He hoped the new Obama administration would work to bring the  
Palestinian factions together.


Carter on Middle East peace
The US government has branded Hamas as a terrorist group and Barack  
Obama, the new US president, has reiterated international demands  
that it recognise Israel, renounce violence and recognise previous  
peace agreements before it can sit at the negotiating table.

Abbas sacked a unity government led by Hamas in 2007, leading to  
Hamas's takeover of the Gaza Strip, while Abbas' Palestinian  
Authority remained in charge of the West Bank.

Carter also said Hamas had mainly kept to its truce agreement not to  
attack Israel.

The truce ended last December and was followed by a massive 22-day  
Israeli assault on Gaza that left more than 1,300 Palestinians dead.

Israel says the operation was necessary to stop Palestinian fighters  
firing rockets into southern Israel.

Mitchell praise

Carter said that US presidents had officially backed UN resolutions  
calling on Israel to end its occupation of Palestinian land, but that  
they had been unwilling to take on Israel's political allies.

"The fact is that very few of the presidents have been willing to  
confront Israel's forces in the United States, politically speaking,"  
Carter said in what appeared to be a reference to the powerful  
Israeli lobby.

Carter, a Democrat who was president from 1976 until 1980, praised  
Obama for signalling deeper US involvement in the quest for Middle  
East peace by appointing Mitchell.

"If you look at US Middle East envoys in the past, almost all of them  
have been closely associated with Israel, sometimes even working  
professionally for Israel. George Mitchell is a balanced and honest  
broker compared to the others."

Mitchell, a former senator, has held talks in Israel and Egypt during  
his first tour of the region aimed at promoting what he said would be  
a bid for "lasting peace" between Israel and the Palestinians.

He had served as special envoy to Northern Ireland during the Clinton  
administration and brokered the landmark Good Friday accord in 1998  
that ended decades of bloody violence in the conflict.

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