Quotes from Palestine: Peace not Apartheid, by Jimmy Carter


- ‘There was an express desire among some radical Israelis to retain the captured territories, but the prevailing attitude among the nation’s leaders was that the occupied lands should be kept only until they could be traded for a secure peace with the Arabs. None of my official briefings included plans for permanent retention or early withdrawal.’ (23)
- ‘I had long talks with archaeologists who were excavating the biblical City of David, and they described how the detritus of past civilizations had constantly raised the level of the streets an average of about one foot a century.’ (24)
- ‘I have to admit that, at the time, I equated the ejection of Palestinians from their previous homes within the State of Israel to the forcing of Lower Creek Indians from the Georgia land where our family farm was now located; they had been moved west to Oklahoma on the ‘Trail of Tears’ to make room for our white ancestors. In this most recent case, although equally harsh, the taking of land had been ordained by the international community through an official decision of the United Nations. The Palestinians had to comply and, after all, they could return or be compensated in the future, and they were guaranteed undisputed ownership of Easter Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.’ (27-28)
- ‘In June 1974, Prime Minister Golda Meir resigned and Yitzhak Rabin took her place. Also, in October, Arab leaders unanimously proclaimed the Palestine Liberation Organization as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, with Yasir Arafat as its leader. Now the Palestinians were to be seen as a people who could speak for themselves.’ (37)
- ‘Such use of American weapons [as in the invasion of Lebanon in 1978] violated a legal requirement that armaments sold by us be used only for Israeli defense against an attack. After consulting with key supports of Israel in the US Senate, I informed Prime Minister Begin that if Israeli forces remained in Lebanon, I would have to notify Congress, as required by law, that US weapons were being used illegally in Lebanon, which would automatically cut off all military aid to Israel. Also, I instructed the State Department to prepare a UN Security Council resolution condemning Israel’s action. Israeli forces withdrew, and United Nations troops came in to replace them in Southern Lebanon, adequate to restrain further PLO attacks on Israeli citizens.’ (44-45)
- ‘For Menachem Begin, the peace treaty with Egypt was the significant act for Israel, while solemn promises regarding the West Bank and Palestinians would be finessed or deliberately violated. With the bilateral treaty, Israel removed Egypt’s considerable strength from the military equation of the Middle East and thus it permitted itself renewed freedom to pursue the goals of a fervent and dedicated minority of its citizens to confiscate, settle, and fortify the occupied territories. Israeli settlement activity still caused great concern, and in 1980, UN Resolution 465, calling on Israel to dismantle existing settlements in the Arab territories occupied since 1967, including East Jerusalem, was passed unanimously. We all knew that Israel must have a comprehensive and lasting peace, and this dream could have been realized if Israel had complied with the Camp David Accords and refrained from colonizing the West Bank, with Arabs accepting Israel within its legal borders.’ (52-53)
- ‘The Ottoman Turks incorporated Palestine into their empire in 1516. They were on the losing side in World War I, and France and Great Britain initially assumed authority over the various parts of the Middle East. The League of Nations assigned to Great Britain the supervision of the Mandate of Palestine, which we now know as the lands of Israel, the West Bank, Gaza, and Jordan. After Jordan was separated from the Mandate in 1922, the remaining territory between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea became known as Palestine.’ (56)
- ‘When Britain conducted a census in Palestine in 1922, there were about 84,000 Jews and 670,000 Arabs, of whom 71,000 were Christians. By the time the area was partitioned by the United Nations, these numbers had grown to about 600,000 Jews and 1.3 million Arabs, 10 percent of whom were Christians. During and after the 1948 war, about 420 Palestinian villages in the territory that became the State of Israel were destroyed and some 700,000 Palestinian residents fled or were driven out.’ (58)
- ‘However, it was not until the announcement of Israel’s plan to divert water from the Sea of Galilee and the Jordan River to irrigate western Israel and the Negev desert that the first summit meeting of Arab leaders took place early in 1964 and the Palestine Liberation Organization was formally organized.’ (58)
- ‘On June 5 [1967], Israel launched preemptive strikes, moving first against Egypt and Syria, then against Jordan. Within six days Israeli military forces had occupied the Golan Heights, Gaza, the Sinai, Jerusalem, and the West Bank. As a result of that conflict, 320,000 more Arabs were forced to leave the additional areas in Syria, Egypt, Jordan, and Palestine that were occupied by Israel.’ (59)
- ‘The next exodus of Palestinians was from Jordan in 1970, the result of a civil war between a powerful force of PLO militants who had settled in Jordan and King Hussein’s regular forces. When the king’s troops prevailed, a new flood of refugees moved from Jordan to Lebanon, where the Palestinians had a host country that was not strong enough to reject them and where the PLO was able to form a governmental organization and even an independent militia. In much of Lebanon, as had been the case in Jordan, the PLO was soon powerful enough to challenge the sovereignty of the host government itself, and its forces launched frequent attacks across the border against Israel. These guerilla raids brought swift Israeli retaliation, much of which fell on Lebanese civilians, who increasingly resented their troublesome guests.’ (60)
- ‘When I met with Yasir Arafat in 1990, he stated, ‘The PLO has never advocated the annihilation of Israel. The Zionists started the ‘drive the Jews into the sea’ slogan and attributed it to the PLO. In 1969 we said we wanted to establish a democratic state where Jews, Christians, and Muslims can all live together. The Zionists said they do not chose to live with any people other than Jews….We said to the Zionist Jews, all right, if you do not want a secular, democratic state for all of us, then we will take another route. In 1974 I said we are ready to establish our independent state in any part from which Israel will withdraw.’ ’ (62)
- ‘One must consider the Jewish experience of the past. Jews suffered for centuries the pain of the Diaspora and persistent persecution in almost every nation in which they dwelt. Despite their remarkable contributions in all aspects of society, many Jews were killed and others driven from place to place by Christian rulers.’ (64)
- ‘It is not likely that any combination of Arab powers or even the powerful influence of the United States could force decisions on Israel concerning East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Palestinian rights, or the occupied territories of Syria. These judgments will be made in Jerusalem.’ (69)
- ‘It is strange to insist on secure borders on other people’s territory. Why should their secure border be in the backyard of Damascus but quite distant from Tel Aviv?’ Syrian President Hafez al-Assad (75)
- ‘If the Israelis insist on keeping East Jerusalem, this shows that they do not want peace, because we are as attached to it as they are.’ Ibid (75)
- Assad complained that the Israelis consider it the right of every Jew in the world, needy or not, to settle in the Arab territories that they control by force while refusing to allow homeless and suffering Arabs driven out of their country to return to the dwellings and lands to which they still hold legal deeds.’ (76)
- ‘The Syrian leader also said that Israelis asserted that the Jews of the world constitute one people, regardless of obvious differences in their identities, languages, customs, and citizenship, but deny that the Palestinians comprise a coherent people even though they have one national identity, one language, one culture, and one history. Many Arabs consider these distinctions to be a form of racism by which Israelis regard Palestinian Arabs who are not worthy of basic human rights, often branding them as terrorists if they resist Israel’s encroachments.’ (77)
- ‘[Assad] scoffed at Israel’s claim to be a true democracy, maintaining that its political and social equality are only for Jews.’ (77)
- ‘Assad maintained that Syria had proven its willingness to work for peace in the following ways that were shared neither by Israel nor the United States
            - By honor all UN resolutions concerning the Arab-Israeli conflict;
- By supporting the overwhelming international decision that the Palestinian people have, like others on earth, a right to self-determination;
- By observing international laws that prohibit the occupation and annexation of land belonging to others;
- By defining its own borders and honoring the international recognized borders of others; and
- By offering to withdraw Syria’s forces from Lebanon when requested to do so by the Lebanese government.’ (78)
- ‘[King Hussein’s grandfather, King] Abdullah had fought well against the Turks in World War I, and the British had wanted to reward him. At first he was considered for the crown of Iraq, but the British decided to give that honor to his brother Faisal. Another throne was needed, so an emirate called Transjordan was created out of some remote desert regions of the Palestine Mandate, and Abdullah had his crown, though little authority. It was not until 1946 that Transjordan was given independence, and still the British ambassador retained control over foreign policy and most financial and military matters.’ (83)
- ‘The Jordanians claim that the constant policy of Israel is to tighten its military hold on the West Bank and Gaza, to compete with the Palestinians for the choice locations, and to make life for them as onerous as possible in order to evict the Arab population from their own land.’ (86)
- ‘[King Hussein] claimed that the societal structure of non-Jews was being changed methodically from family farming and free enterprise into day labor, with Palestinians becoming increasingly dependent on menial household jobs and other work for Israelis.’ (87)
- ‘With Arafat as its leader, the PLO remained a strong force in Lebanon and continued cross-border attacks against Israel. In June 1982, a massive array of Israeli military forces invaded Lebanon and drove all the way to surround Beirut, with the goal of driving the PLO out of the country. The specific explanation was that the PLO had assassinated the Israeli ambassador in London, though a different group later claimed responsibility for the crime. Even as a private citizen I was deeply troubled by this invasion, and I expressed my concern to some top Israeli leaders who had participated in the Camp David negotiations that the attack was a violation of the Accords. Back came a disturbing reply from an unimpeachable source in Jerusalem: ‘We had a green light from Washington.’ President Reagan’s national security advisor denied any official approval for the invasion, but a tacit unofficial blessing was all that had been needed.’ (94-95)
- ‘Under pressure from Washington, the Israelis made a partial withdrawal to the south while American and European troops entered Beirut to supervise the forced departure of Arafat and several thousand of his PLO troops.’ (95)
- ‘American marines deployed around the Beirut airport came under increasing fire from the Lebanese militia in the surrounding hills, and US forces responded with naval guns from battleships and aerial bombing from aircraft carriers offshore.’ (96)
- ‘The militant group Hezbollah (‘Party of God’) was formed in Lebanon in 1982 to resist the Israeli occupation. Its members are mostly Shia Muslims, and the organization receives support from both Syria and Iran. Hezbollah is led by Hassan Nasrallah, a disciple of Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini, who led the Iranian revolution against the Shah. About 700 hardcore militia are able to expand to as many as 20,000 during times of emergency. It is a tightly knit and effective fighting force that dominates portions of Lebanon, much too strong to be controlled by the regular military forces of the nation. The civilian wing is widely respected in Lebanon for providing humanitarian services, and its political candidates hold 14 of the 128 seats in parliament. Amal, a sister Shia group, has 14 seats. In the 2005 election, these two groups won 80 percent of the votes cast in Southern Lebanon.’ (96-97)
- ‘In April 1983, a month after my visit to Beirut, 63 people were killed by a bomb at the American embassy, and later a deadly explosion took the lives of 241 US marines in their barracks. These attacks, combined with the shooting down of American naval planes by militia in the hills surrounding Beirut, aroused strong American political opposition to our presence in Lebanon, and US troops were quickly withdrawn. This seemed to leave Assad ‘king of the mountain.’ He proclaimed that the Arabs had just won their most important victory over the United States.’ (97)
- ‘We cannot take our client’s case out of the West Bank into an Israeli court. We are not permitted to practice there.’ Palestinian human rights lawyer (119)
- ‘Their primary condemnation was divided almost equally between Israel and the United States. They denounced our country for financing the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories and for supporting military actions against Arab countries.’ (120)
- ‘They claimed that any manufactured goods or farm products were not permitted to be sold in Israel if they competed with Israeli produce, so any surplus had to be given away, dumped, or exported to Jordan.’ (121)
- ‘Access to water was a persistent issue. Each Israeli settler uses five times as much water as a Palestinian neighbor, who must pay four times as much per gallon. They showed us photographs of Israeli swimming pools adjacent to Palestinian villages where drinking water had to be hauled in on tanker trucks and dispensed by the bucketful. Most of the hilltop settlements are on small areas of land, so untreated sewage is discharged into the surrounding fields and villages.’ (121)
- ‘Since lack of cultivation or use for farming is one of the criteria for claiming state land, it became official policy in 1983 to prohibit, under penalty of imprisonment, any grazing or the planting of trees or crops in these areas by Palestinians.’ (124)
- No legal cases concerning these land matters were permitted in the Palestinian courts; they now had to be decided by the Israeli civil governor.’ (124-125)
- ‘President George H. W. Bush demanded a freeze on settlement housing being built or planned, especially a large complex between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. When he finally threatened to withhold a portion of the $10 million daily aid package, plus loan guarantees, from the United States, the Israeli government complied and the US grants and loans were approved – but with a deduction of $400 million, the amount that Israel already had spent on settlement activity. Later, after President Bush was no longer in office, I noticed that this major settlement was being rapidly completed.’ (132)
- ‘As part of the agreement, in September 1993, Chairman Arafat sent a letter to Prime Minister Rabin in which he stated unequivocally that the PLO recognized the right of Israel to exist in peace and security, accepted UN Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338, committed itself to a peaceful resolution of the conflict, renounce the use of terrorism and other acts of violence, affirmed that those articles of the PLO covenant that deny Israel’s right to exist were no longer valid, and promised to submit these commitments to the Palestinian National Council for formal changes to the covenant. Although Israel recognized the PLO as the sole representative of the Palestinians in the peace negotiations and promised five years of further progress, Arafat had failed to obtain other specific concessions concerning a timetable for Israel’s withdrawal from occupied territories. In effect, what he got from the Oslo agreement was the assurance of organizing a form of Palestinian government and staying in power so that he could administer Palestinian affairs in the West Bank and Gaza. The Israelis wanted and achieved much more.’ (134-135)
- ‘We ourselves obtained this concession from the Palestinians – from those with whom one should make such deals – without any American promises as in the Camp David agreements. Jewish settlements will be placed under an exclusive Israeli jurisdiction; the [Palestinian] Autonomy Council will have no authority over them. The forces of the Israeli army will be redeployed in locations determined only by us, unlike the Camp David agreements which mandated a withdrawal of the Israeli army forces. In the agreement we reached we didn’t consent to use the formula ‘withdrawal of Israeli army forces’ except when it applied to the Gaza Strip. In application to all other places the only term used is ‘redeployment.’ …I prefer that the Palestinians cope with the problem of enforcing order in Gaza. The Palestinians will be better at it than we were because they will allow no appeals to the Supreme Court and will prevent the [Israeli] Association for Civil Rights from criticizing the conditions there by denying it access to the area. They will rule there by their own methods, freeing – and this is most important – the Israeli army soldiers from having to do what they will do.’ Rabin (136-137)
- ‘A key advantage that the Oslo Agreement gave to Israel was the shedding of formal responsibility for the living conditions and welfare of the territories’ rapidly increasing population, still completely dominated by Israeli forces.’ (137)
- ‘The best offer to the Palestinians – by Clinton, not Barak – had been to withdraw 20 percent of the settlements, covering about 10 percent of the occupied land, including land to be ‘leased’ and portions of the Jordan River valley and East Jerusalem. The percentage figure is misleading, since it usually includes only the actual footprints of the settlements. There is a zone with a radius of about four hundred meters around each settlement within which Palestinians cannot enter. In addition, there are other large areas that would have been taken or earmarked to be used exclusively by Israel, roadways that connect the settlements to one another and to Jerusalem, and ‘life arteries’ that provide the settlers with water, sewage, electricity, and communications. These range in width from five hundred to four thousand meters, and Palestinians cannot use or cross many of these connecting links. This honeycomb of settlements and their interconnection conduits effectively divide the West Bank into at least two noncontiguous areas and multiple fragments, often uninhabitable or even unreachable, and control of the Jordan River valley denies Palestinians any direct access eastward into Jordan. About one hundred military checkpoints completely surround Palestine and block routes going into or between Palestinian communities, combined with an uncountable number of other roads that are permanently closed with large concrete cubes or mounds of earth and rocks. There was no possibility that any Palestinian leader could accept such terms and survive, but official statements from Washington and Jerusalem were successful in placing the entire onus for the failure on Yasir Arafat.’ (151-152)
- ‘A new round of talks was held at Taba in January 2001, during the last few days of the Clinton presidency, between President Arafat and the Israeli foreign minister, and it was later claimed that the Palestinians rejected a ‘generous offer’ put forward by Prime Minister Barak with Israeli keeping only 5 percent of the West Bank. The fact is that no such offers were ever made. Barak later said, ‘It was plain to me that there was no chance of reaching a settlement at Taba. Therefore I said there would be no negotiations.’ ’ (152)
- ‘[Sharon] strongly opposed the Oslo peace agreement and emphasized his total commitment to counteract attacks on Israeli citizens and armed forces – almost all of which were occurring on Palestinian territory.’ (155)
- ‘Arafat was to be permanently confined to this small space until the final days of his life. Having limited contacts with his own people and with minimal remaining authority, he was still held responsible by the Israelis for every act of violence within the occupied territories.’ (157)
- ‘The Palestinians accepted the road map in its entirety, but the Israeli government announced fourteen caveats and prerequisites, some of which would preclude any final peace talks.’ (159)
- ‘The practical result of all this is that the Roadmap for Peace has become moot, with only two results: Israel has been able to use it as a delaying tactic with an endless series of preconditions that can never be met, while proceeding with plans to implement its unilateral gaols; and the United States has been able to give the impression of positive engagement in a ‘peace process,’ which President Bush has announced will not be fulfilled during his time in office.’ (160)
- ‘Described as a ‘security fence’ whose declared function was to deter Palestinian attacks against Israelis, its other purpose became clear as we observed its construction and examined maps of the barrier’s ultimate path through Palestine. Including the Israeli-occupied Jordan River valley, the wall would take in large areas of land for Israel and encircle the Palestinians who remained in their remnant of the West Bank. This would severely restrict Palestinian access to the outside world. ‘Imprisonment wall’ is more descriptive than ‘security fence.’ ’ (174)
- ‘[In Gaza,] fishermen are not permitted to leave the harbor, workers are prevented from going to outside jobs, the import or export of food and other goods is severely restricted and often cut off completely, and the police, teachers, nurses, and social workers are deprived of salaries. Per capita income has decreased 40 percent during the last three years, and the poverty rate has reached 70 percent. The UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food has stated that acute malnutrition in Gaza is already on the same scale as that seen in the poorer countries of the Southern Sahara, with more than half of all Palestinian families eating only one meal a day.’ (175-176)
- ‘A postelection public opinion poll indicated that 73 percent of Palestinians expressed their support for the two-state peace process with Israel, but most felt that Hamas should refrain from recognizing Israel until some of the final status issues were resolved. Only 1 percent of the people were in favor of Hamas’s [sic] imposing Islamic law in Palestine.’ (185)
- ‘The US response was that Hamas must first recognize Israel, renounce violence, and agree to honor previously negotiated agreements. Israel’s response, delivered by its defense minister, was that all seventy-four Hamas members of the parliament would be targeted for assassination in case of another violent attack on Israelis by any Palestinian.’ (186)
- ‘Countering Israeli arguments that the wall is to keep Palestinian suicide bombers from Israel, Father Claudio adds a comment that describe the path of the entire barrier: ‘The Wall is not separating Palestinians from Jews; rather, Palestinians from Palestinians.’ ’ (194)
- A network of exclusive highways is being built across even these fragments of the West Bank to connect the new Greater Israel in the west with the occupied Jordan River valley in the east, where 7,000 Jews are living in twenty-one heavily protected settlements among about 50,000 Palestinians who are still permitted to stay there. The area along the Jordan River, which is now planned as the eastern leg of the encirclement of the Palestinians, is one of Palestine’s most lucrative and productive agricultural regions.’ (195)
- ‘The Palestinians will have a future impossible for them or any responsible portion of the international community to accept, and Israel’s permanent status will be increasingly troubled and uncertain as deprived people fight oppression and the relative number of Jewish citizens decreases demographically (compared to Arabs) both within Israel and in Palestine.’ (196)
- ‘International human rights organizations estimate that since 1967 more than 630,000 Palestinians (about 20 percent of the total population) in the occupied territories have been detained at some time by the Israelis, arousing deep resentment among the families involved. Although the vast majority of prisoners are men, there are a large number of women and children being held. Between the ages of twelve and fourteen, children can be sentenced for a period of up to six months, and after the age of fourteen Palestinian children are tried as adults, a violation of international law.’ (196-197)
- ‘Accused persons usually are tried in military courts in the West Bank, and then incarcerated in prisons inside Israel. This means that both family visits and access to lawyers are prohibited during the frequent and extended times of tight travel restrictions. The Fourth Geneva Convention prohibits this policy, stating: ‘Protected persons accused of offences shall by detained in the occupied country, and if convicted they shall serve their sentences therein.’ ’ (197)
- ‘The cycle of violence erupted once more in June 2006, when Palestinians dug a tunnel under the barrier that surrounds Gaza and attacked some Israeli soldiers, capturing one of them. They offered to exchange the soldier for the release of 95 women and 313 children who are among some 8,500 Palestinians in Israeli prisons. Israel rejected any negotiations and, in an attempt to rescue the soldier and to stop the firing of homemade rockets into Israeli territory, invaded parts of Gaza, bombing government buildings and destroyed connecting bridges and the power station that provides electricity and water. There were heavy casualties and Gaza was even more isolated. When Hamas and Fatah leaders agreed to accept a proposal from the revered prisoner, Marwan Barghouti, as a demonstration of their unity, Israeli responded by seizing 64 members of Hamas in the West Bank, including a third of the Palestinian cabinet and 23 legislators.’ (197-198)
- ‘Claiming to be supporting the beleaguered Palestinians, Hezbollah militants based in Lebanon attacked Israeli patrol vehicles in Israel, killing three Israeli soldiers and capturing two others. Prime Minister Olmert announced that this was a national declaration of war, then imposed a naval blockade and launched attacks on multiple targets in Beirut and throughout Southern Lebanon. Hezbollah leaders demanded the release of Lebanese prisoners and the withdrawal of Israel from the disputed area of Shebaa Farms, and Hezbollah launched a barrage of rockets on cities in northern Israel. During the first month of fighting, more than 800 Lebanese civilians were dead or missing under rubble and a million – one-fourth of the population – were displaced. Twenty-seven Israeli civilians were killed, and a large number left their homes in northern Israel or lived in bomb shelters to escape the bombardment of Hezbollah rockets. There were also an unknown number of military casualties on both sides.’ (199)
- ‘We have no problem with a sovereign Palestinan state over all our lands within the 1967 borders, living in calm.’ Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh (203)
- ‘The United States has used its UN Security Council veto more than forty times to block resolutions critical of Israel.’ (209)
- ‘As I said in a 1979 speech to the Israeli Knesset, ‘The people support a settlement. Political leaders are the obstacles to peace.’ Over the years, public opinion surveys have consistently shown that a majority of Israelis favor withdrawing from Palestinian territory in exchange for peace, and recent polls show that 80 percent of Palestinians still want a two-state peace agreement with Israel.’ (211)

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