President Carter, who was able to negotiate peace between Israel and Egypt, has remained deeply involved in Middle East affairs since leaving the White House. He has stayed in touch with the major players from all sides in the conflict and has made numerous trips to the Holy Land, most recently as an observer in the Palestinian elections of 2005 and 2006.
In this book President Carter shares his intimate knowledge of the history of the Middle East and his personal experiences with the principal actors, and he addresses sensitive political issues many American officials avoid. Pulling no punches, Carter prescribes steps that must be taken for the two states to share the Holy Land without a system of apartheid or the constant fear of terrorism.
The general parameters of a long-term, two-state agreement are well known, the president writes. There will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American 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, U.S. government leaders must be in the forefront of achieving this long-delayed goal of a just agreement that both sides can honor.
Palestine Peace Not Apartheid is a challenging, provocative, and courageous book.
Since the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty was signed in 1979, much blood has been shed unnecessarily and repeated efforts for a negotiated peace between Israel and her neighbors have failed. Despite its criticism from some Arab sources, this treaty stands as proof that diplomacy can bring lasting peace between ancient adversaries. Although disparities among them are often emphasized, the 1974 Israeli-Syrian withdrawal agreement, the 1978 Camp David Accords, the Reagan statement of 1982, the 1993 Oslo Agreement, the treaty between Israel and Jordan in 1994, the Arab peace proposal of 2002, the 2003 Geneva Initiative, and the International Quartet's Roadmap all contain key common elements that can be consolidated if pursued in good faith.
There are two interrelated obstacles to permanent peace in the Middle East:
There is much in the book that is of value, such as the chapter devoted to the humiliations of every day life for the Palestinians under Israeli occupation, the confiscation of farm produce, unfair competition from Israeli goods, the withholding of foreign donations, leveling of houses without legal recourse, and so on and so forth; and the fact does remain that Israel is in violation of key U.N. resolutions. However, whereas Carter goes out of his way to cite examples of Israeli bad faith frequently, he allows many apparently hollow statements and arguable misrepresentations by Israel's enemies to pass into print with little in the way of counter-argument or even comment.
There will always be people ready to criticize any book written about the Israel-Palestine conflict, especially one from a pro-Palestinian viewpoint; but it seems a great pity that Carter, one of the highest-profile authorities on the area, has left himself open to such easy pot-shots with what, at times, comes across as an unnecessarily unbalanced account of the conflict. (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).
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