- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Former president and international peace activist Jimmy Carter is urging the U.S. government to recognize Hamas as a “legitimate political actor” while condemning Israel’s actions in the Gaza Strip as a “humanitarian catastrophe” in a new op-ed he co-authored on ForeignPolicy.com.  

In the op-ed — co-authored by Mary Robinson, former president of Ireland and former United Nations High Commissioner — Mr. Carter and Ms. Robinson blast Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

“There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war. Israeli bombs, missiles and artillery have pulverized large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools and hospitals. More than 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinian noncombatants have been killed. Much of Gaza has lost access to water and electricity completely. This is a humanitarian catastrophe,” Mr. Carter and Ms. Robinson wrote in the op-ed.

They also call on the U.S. and the European Union to recognize the legitimacy of Hamas, saying, “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.”

Mr. Carter and Ms. Robinson also say that for peace to ultimately reign in the region, a Palestinian state must be created alongside of Israel. They also encouraged the international community to set an initial goal of “the full restoration of the free movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through Israel, Egypt and the sea.”