Jimmy Carter is calling on the U.S. and Europe to recognize Hamas as a legitimate political actor in his new op-ed in Foreign Policy Magazine titled How to Fix It.
"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."Jimmy Carter may be the most authoritative American voice to come out in support of Hamas. The middle-east may have shaped President Carter's legacy more than any other president before or since. He oversaw the Camp David Peace Accords that successfully led to a lasting peace between Egypt and Israel. He also watched as a vehemently anti-American government took control of Iran and held 52 Americans hostage for over a year.
Now Carter's op-ed piece puts the blame for the current Gaza conflict on the shoulders of Israel. Suggesting that the tragedy is the result of "deliberate obstruction of a promising move toward peace in the region."
In a major break from U.S. foreign policy, President Carter believes that the reconciliation agreement and unity government formed by Hamas and the more moderate Fatah is a step towards peace. Jimmy Carter says that the government has pledged to meet basic principles required from the United Nations: nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and adherence to past agreements.
When the Unity government was first being discussed, U.S. officials warned Fatah that by signing the agreement with Hamas, which the U.S. considers a terrorist group, it was derailing peace talks with Israel.
When the talks did break down the stage was set for conflict, and when 3 Israels were kidnapped, allegedly by Hamas, a tit for tat war ensued with Gaza taking most of the pain.
As for the war itself, Jimmy Carter had some cutting words for Israel saying:
"There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war."Granted former President Carter did say that Hamas' attacks on Israel were also atrocities, adding:
"There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes."President Jimmy Carter goes on to outline what he believes are the major obstacles to peace: the blockades and sanctions and financing for teachers, policemen and others to be paid.
The full op-ed piece by Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson can be found here.
[Image Credit: AP Photo/Bob Daugherty]