In Pariah Diplomacy, ex-President Jimmy Carter argues that continued boycotting of Hamas is counter-productive.
After enthusiastically cheering on the success of Maoists in Nepal, he turns his attention to the Middle East.
The Carter Center had monitored three Palestinian elections, including one for parliamentary seats in January 2006. Hamas had prevailed in several municipal contests, gained a reputation for effective and honest administration and did surprisingly well in the legislative race, displacing the ruling party, Fatah. As victors, Hamas proposed a unity government with Mahmoud Abbas of Fatah as president and offered to give key ministries to Fatah, including that of foreign affairs and finance.
Hamas had been declared a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel, and the elected Palestinian government was forced to dissolve. Eventually, Hamas gained control of Gaza, and Fatah is “governing” the Israeli-dominated West Bank. Opinion polls show Hamas steadily gaining popularity. Since there can be no peace with Palestinians divided, we at the Carter Center believed it important to explore conditions allowing Hamas to be brought peacefully back into the discussions. (A recent poll of Israelis, who are familiar with this history, showed 64 percent favored direct talks between Israel and Hamas.)
Similarly, Israel cannot gain peace with Syria unless the Golan Heights dispute is resolved. Here again, United States policy is to ostracize the Syrian government and prevent bilateral peace talks, contrary to the desire of high Israeli officials.
Now I'm glad that he brought up his history in observing Palestinian elections. But first let me remind you that his election observing also confirmed the election of Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, despite plenty of evidence that he cheated. Chavez recently added to his self accrued powers, arguing further that Carter was wrong to have certified his election in the first place.
In acknowledging his role in certifying the election of Yasser Arafat in 1996, Carter takes pride in another fixed election that he certified despite evidence of its fraudulence.
And of course now he prides himself on supervising an election that brought Hamas to power.
He argues that it is the refusal to recognize Hamas and Syria that prolongs conflict in the Middle East. Yet he fails to realize that it was giving legitimacy to the likes of Yasser Arafat that has prevented peace in the Middle East. Terror organizations and rogue states don't become good actors through elections or any other phony attempt to play down their mischief.
UPDATE: There's less to Carter's little factoid about 64% of Israelis supporting talks with Hamas than meets the eye. His dishonest presentation - including his continued denial of being warned away from Meshaal by Sec. Rice - should remind all readers of Carter's own history. It's not one of candor.
Crossposted on Yourish.Posted by SoccerDad at April 28, 2008 6:27 AM