Jimmy Carter Has Not Shut Up And Is Now Calling Hamas A “Legitimate Political Actor”

You would think that, with Barack Obama eclipsing him as the new worst president in modern American history, Jimmy Carter would sit still and enjoy the lifting of his burden.

But Carter can’t, and he’s proving just because Obama is more wrongheaded and incompetent than he was that doesn’t mean he’s ceased to be wrongheaded and incompetent.

Consider the piece Carter wrote in Foreign Policy yesterday which makes John Kerry look like James Baker…

Israelis and Palestinians are still burying their loved ones as Gaza’s third war in six years continues. Since July 8, when this war began, more than 1,600 Palestinian and 65 Israeli lives have been sacrificed. Many in the world are heartbroken in the powerless certainty that more will die, that more are being killed every hour.

This tragedy results from the deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region, when a reconciliation agreement among the Palestinian factions was announced in April. This was a major concession by Hamas, in opening Gaza to joint control under a technocratic government that did not include any Hamas members. The new government also pledged to adopt the three basic principles demanded by the Middle East Quartet comprised of the United Nations, the United States, the European Union, and Russia: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements. Tragically, Israel rejected this opportunity for peace and has succeeded in preventing the new government’s deployment in Gaza.

No, he doesn’t mention those peace rockets Hamas has been firing at Israel on a virtually non-stop basis for years. And he also doesn’t mention the peace tunnels they’re digging under the border between Gaza and Israel.

But there’s more…

Two factors are necessary to make Palestinian unity possible. First, there must be at least a partial lifting of the 7-year-old sanctions and blockade that isolate the 1.8 million people in Gaza. There must also be an opportunity for the teachers, police, and welfare and health workers on the Hamas payroll to be paid. These necessary requirements for a human standard of living continue to be denied. Instead, Israel blocked Qatar’s offer to provide funds to pay civil servants’ salaries, and access to and from Gaza has been further tightened by Egypt and Israel.

There’s a blockade to keep weapons from getting into Gaza. It’s pretty clear that any kind of dual-use technology or material which makes its way to Hamas in Gaza will be used for a military purpose. Concrete, for example, does not build hospitals, schools or shopping malls. It builds peace tunnels.

There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war. Israeli bombs, missiles, and artillery have pulverized large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools, and hospitals. More than 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinian noncombatants have been killed. Much of Gaza has lost access to water and electricity completely. This is a humanitarian catastrophe.

The Israelis call people whose homes and businesses are going to be targeted and warn them to get out. Hamas forces civilians into harm’s way. Hamas knocked out the power to Gaza by shooting rockets at power stations serving Gaza. Carter recognizes none of this.

There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes. This is true for both sides. Hamas’s indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians is equally unacceptable. However, three Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets, while an overwhelming majority of the 1,600 Palestinians killed have been civilians, including more than 330 children. The need for international judicial proceedings to investigate and end these violations of international law should be taken very seriously.

So because the Israelis developed Iron Dome to keep their civilians from dying while Hamas acts to maximize civilian casualties on its own side, that somehow makes Israel the bad guy. This is the former president of the United States writing, let’s remember.

The U.N. Security Council should focus on what can be done to limit the potential use of force by both sides. It should vote for a resolution recognizing the inhumane conditions in Gaza and mandate an end to the siege. That resolution could also acknowledge the need for international monitors who can report on movements into and out of Gaza as well as cease-fire violations. It should then enshrine strict measures to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. Early discussions have already taken place. The Elders, an international group of elder statesmen of which we are a part, hope these discussions will continue and reach fruition.

If you’re Israel and you’re able to put your own soldiers on the ground to deal with cease-fire violations and weapons smuggling, why on earth would you trust Jimmy Carter and his international monitors who failed so spectacularly in Lebanon? Let’s not forget that Hamas has used UN schools in Gaza as platforms to fire rockets and storage houses for weapons, and the UN has apparently been complicit in that abuse.

There’s more. Here comes the punch line…

The international community’s initial goal should be the full restoration of the free movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through Israel, Egypt, and the sea. Concurrently, the United States and EU should recognize that Hamas is not just a military but also a political force. Hamas cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise. Only by recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor — one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people — can the West begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons. Ever since the internationally monitored 2006 elections that brought Hamas to power in Palestine, the West’s approach has manifestly contributed to the opposite result.

Hamas’ charter calls for the annihilation of Israel. Does anyone besides this aging simpleton truly believe Hamas can be pacified through diplomatic means?

Frankly, it’s people like Carter who prolong the Middle East conflict by preventing military reality from bringing peace. If he actually cared about peace in that region he would shut up and let the adults resolve the situation. But Carter, like Kerry, is Hamas’ lawyer on the international stage.

He’s a disgrace.

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