CARTER: A NEW CHANCE FOR PEACE?
I am concerned that public discussion of my book "Palestine Peace Not Apartheid" has been diverted from the book's basic proposals: that peace talks be resumed after six years of delay and that the tragic persecution of Palestinians be ended. Although most critics have not seriously disputed or even mentioned the facts and suggestions about these two issues, an apparently concerted campaign has been focused on the book's title, combined with allegations that I am anti-Israel. This is not good for any of us who are committed to Israel's status as a peaceful nation living in harmony with its neighbors.
It is encouraging that President Bush has announced that peace in the Holy Land will be a high priority for his administration during the next two years. On her current trip to the region, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called for an early U.S.-Israeli-Palestinian meeting. She has recommended the 2002 offer of the 23 Arab nations as a foundation for peace: full recognition of Israel based on a return to its internationally recognized borders. This offer is compatible with official U.S. policy, previous agreements approved by Israeli governments in 1978 and 1993, and the "road map" for peace developed by the "quartet" (the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations).
The clear fact is that Israel will never find peace until it is willing to withdraw from its neighboring occupied territories and permit the Palestinians to exercise their basic human and political rights. With land swaps, this "green line" can be modified through negotiations to let a substantial number of Israeli settlers remain in their subsidized homes east of the internationally recognized border. The premise of exchanging Arab territory for peace has been acceptable for several decades to a majority of Israelis but not to a minority of the more conservative leaders, who are unfortunately supported by most of the vocal American Jewish community.