Thu, Aug 03, 2006 - Page 9 News List

Stop the perfunctory diplomacy

The Lebanon conflict is part of the cycle of violence that is the result of the lack of a comprehensive settlement in the Middle East. Piecemeal efforts should no longer be tolerated

By Jimmy Carter

Leaders on both sides ignore strong majorities that crave peace, allowing extremist-led violence to preempt all opportunities for building a political consensus. Traumatized Israelis cling to the false hope that their lives will be made safer by incremental unilateral withdrawals from occupied areas, while Palestinians see their remnant territories reduced to little more than human dumping grounds surrounded by a provocative "security barrier" that embarrasses Israel's friends and fails to bring safety or stability.

The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known.

There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key UN resolutions, official US policy and the international "road map" for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians. Except for mutually agreeable negotiated modifications, Israel's official pre-1967 borders must be honored. As were all previous administrations since the founding of Israel, US government leaders must be in the forefront of achieving this long-delayed goal.

A major impediment to progress is the US administration's strange policy that dialogue on controversial issues will be extended only as a reward for subservient behavior and will be withheld from those who reject US assertions. Direct engagement with the Palestine Liberation Organization or the Palestinian Authority and the government in Damascus will be necessary if secure negotiated settlements are to be achieved. Failure to address the issues and leaders involved risks the creation of an arc of even greater instability running from Jerusalem through Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and Tehran.

The people of the Middle East deserve peace and justice, and we in the international community owe them our strong leadership and support.

Jimmy Carter is a former president of the US and the founder of the non-profit Carter Center in Atlanta.

Copyright: Project Syndicate

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