Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Carter calls western rejection of Hamas's election victory criminal act

From Khalid Amayreh and News Agencies

"Former US president Jimmy Carter has called the rejection by the West of Hamas's election victory in 2006 a criminal act.

In a speech before Ireland's eighth annual Forum on human rights Tuesday, the 83-year-old former President said the US and Israel, with European Union acquiescence, sought to subvert the outcome of the Palestinian elections by shunning Hamas and helping Abbas to keep the reins of political and military power. "That action was criminal," said Carter during a news conference.

Carter who observed the elections said they were quite fair and democratic. Carter said Hamas won a fair and democratic mandate that should have entitled it to lead the Palestinian government, adding that the movement had proven itself to be far more organized in its political and military showdown with the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority Chairman Muhammed Abbas.

Hamas fighters last week routed Fatah forces answerable to Muhammed Dahlan, the American-backed former Gaza strongman. Dahlan, whose forces had been armed and financed by the United States, is rumored to have planned a coup in Gaza against the Hamas-led government.

Carter said the American-Israeli-European consensus to reopen direct aid to the new government in Ramallah, but to deny the same to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, represented an effort "to divide the Palestinian people into two peoples." "The United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Fatah and Hamas."

Carter described US policy toward Fatah as a failure. "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 this month routed Fatah because of its superior skills and discipline."

Finally, Carter castigated western efforts to isolate the now Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, calling on the international community to treat both the West Bank and Gaza Strip equally. "This effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples now is a step in the wrong direction. All efforts of the international community should be to reconcile the two, but there is no effort from the outside to bring the two together.""

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