DUBLIN, Ireland - Former President Jimmy Carter accused the US, Israel and
the European Union on Tuesday of seeking to divide the Palestinian people by
reopening aid to President Mahmoud Abbas' new government in the West Bank while
denying the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip.
Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner
who was addressing a human rights conference in Ireland, also said the Bush
administration's refusal to accept Hamas' 2006 election victory was "criminal."
Former US President Jimmy Carter speaks during the ninth
annual NGO Forum on Human Rights, at Croke Park conference centre, Dublin.
Tuesday June 19, 2007. [AP]
Carter said Hamas, besides winning a fair and democratic mandate that should
have entitled it to lead the Palestinian government, had proven itself to be far
more organized in its political and military showdowns with Abbas' moderate
Hamas fighters routed Fatah in their violent takeover of the Gaza Strip last
week. The split prompted Abbas to dissolve the power-sharing government with his
rivals in Hamas and set up a Fatah-led administration to govern the West Bank.
Carter said the consensus of the US, Israel and the EU to start funneling aid
to Abbas' new government in the West Bank but continue blocking Hamas in the
Gaza Strip represented an "effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples."
"All efforts of the international community should be to reconcile the two,
but there's no effort from the outside to bring the two together," he said.
The US and European countries cut off the Hamas-led government last year
because of the Islamic militant group's refusal to renounce violence and
recognize Israel. They have continued to send humanitarian aid to Gaza through
the United Nations and other organizations.
In the latest crisis, the US, Israel and much of the West have been trying to
shore up Abbas in hopes that the West Bank can be made into a democratic example
that would bring along Gaza.
During his speech to Ireland's annual Forum on Human Rights, the 83-year-old
former president said monitors from his Carter Center observed the 2006 election
that Hamas won. He said the vote was "orderly and fair" and Hamas triumphed, in
part, because it was "shrewd in selecting candidates," whereas a divided,
corrupt Fatah ran multiple candidates for single seats.
Far from encouraging Hamas' move into parliamentary politics, Carter said the
US and Israel, with European Union acquiescence, sought to subvert the outcome
by shunning Hamas and helping Abbas to keep the reins of political and military
"That action was criminal," he said in a news conference after his speech.
"The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine
and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah," he
Carter said the US and others supplied the
Fatah-controlled security forces in Gaza with vastly superior weaponry in hopes
they would "conquer Hamas in Gaza" - but Hamas routed Fatah in the fighting
last week because of its "superior skills and discipline."