Peace in our Time?

September 23, 2007

Carter Centre Press Release: Prospects Dim for Middle East Peace

Filed under: Blogroll, Gaza, Israel, Middle East, Palestine, Peace, Peace Now, Saudi, Uncategorized — angelajerusalem @ 3:06 pm

Israeli Actions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank:
Prospects Dim for Middle East Peace

21 September 2007


In a statement issued today (see below): The Carter Center deplores the decision taken Wednesday by Israel to declare the Gaza Strip a hostile territory and its threat to cut off provision of essential services such as electricity and fuel to the civilian population. The Center strongly believes that such actions would defy Israel’s obligations toward the civilian population under international humanitarian and human rights laws, and urges Israel to rescind this decision.

While The Carter Center recognizes Israel’s right to defend its citizens and condemns the continued indiscriminate firing of rockets from the Gaza Strip, as an occupying power, Israel is expressly prohibited under international law from collectively punishing the civilian population of the Gaza Strip. Furthermore, Israel is obligated to “take all the measures in [its] power” to ensure public order and civil life of the Palestinian civilian population. Israeli threats to cut off the supply of electricity and fuel to Gaza contradict these legal obligations and would have devastating humanitarian consequences.

“The people of Gaza have been reduced to conditions of poverty, malnutrition, and imprisonment that should be considered totally unacceptable by the civilized world,” said Carter Center Field Office Director Scott Custer. “The deliberate Israeli policy to reduce the Palestinians to penury does not meet the standards required by international humanitarian and human rights law of Israel as an occupying power.”

The latest crisis in Gaza underscores the escalating costs of failing even to seek a peace agreement between Israelis and Palestinians. A peaceful solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict will only be possible if all Palestinians unite behind a single peace initiative. The Carter Center calls on the two major parties, Fateh and Hamas, to repair the breach that occurred with Hamas’ illegal takeover of the Gaza Strip. At the same time, The Carter Center calls on the international community to support efforts for national reconciliation. The Carter Center believes that the forthcoming international meeting in Washington D.C. ultimately will be successful only if a strong majority of the Palestinian people supports the outcome and the West Bank and the Gaza Strip are reunited under a single governmental authority.

Finally, The Carter Center calls for renewed attention to the greatest obstacle to a viable two state solution, namely continued expansion and consolidation of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, protected by increasing internal checkpoints and the encroachment of a separation barrier. The infrastructure of Israel’s occupation of the West Bank is fast becoming permanent, making a two-state solution and viable independent state in Palestine nearly impossible. As U.S. government aid is needed for Israel to continue the expansion of settlements and related infrastructure projects, it bears a special responsibility for undermining the prospects of lasting peace.

The Carter Center reopened its field office in May 2007 in the Palestinian territories in support of peace for Israel, justice for the Palestinians, and the emergence of a viable, democratic Palestinian state. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter led missions to observe Palestinian elections held in 1996, 2005, and 2006.

The Carter Center long has been committed to peace between Israel and the Palestinian people and the advancement of democracy and human rights in Palestine. The Center maintains a field presence to closely monitor political developments on the ground, publish periodic reports on critical issues of democratic development in the territories, and work with local partners on human rights and democracy activities.

Scott Custer, Carter Center Ramallah field office director, is formerly chief of the International Law Division, at the U.N. Relief and Works Agency Headquarters in Gaza.


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