"Science," the Greek word for knowledge, when appended to the word "political," creates what seems like an oxymoron. For who could claim to know politics? More complicated than any game, most people who play it become addicts and die without understanding what they were addicted to. The rest of us suffer under their malpractice as our "leaders." A truer case of the blind leading the blind could not be found. Plumb the depths of confusion here.


Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:26 pm

by Jimmy Carter
© 2006 by Jimmy Carter




Table of Contents

Historical Chronology
1. Prospects for Peace
2. My First Visit to Israel, 1973
3. My Presidency, 1977-81
4. The Key Players
5. Other Neighbors
6. The Reagan Years, 1981-89
7. My Visits with Palestinians
8. The George H. W. Bush Years
9. The Oslo Agreement
10. The Palestinian Election, 1996
11. Bill Clinton's Peace Efforts
12. The George W. Bush years
13. The Geneva Initiative
14. The Palestinian Election, 2005
15. The Palestinian and Israeli Elections, 2006
16. The Wall as a Prison
17. Summary
Appendix 1: U.N. Resolution 242,1967
Appendix 2: U.N Resolution 338,1973
Appendix 3: Camp David Accords, 1978
Appendix 4: Framework for Egypt Israel Peace Treaty, 1978
Appendix 5: U.N. Resolution 465,1980
Appendix 6: Arab Peace Proposal, 2002
Appendix 7: Israel's Response to the Roadmap, May 25, 2003
1. The Middle East Today
2. The U.N. Partition Plan, 1947
3. Israel, 1949-67
4. Israel, 1967-82
5. Israel, 1982, 2006
6. Clinton's Proposal, 2000
7. Sharon's Plan, 2002
8. Geneva Initiative, 2003
9. Palestinians Surrounded, 2006
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:31 pm


The Middle East Today


The U.N. Partition Plan


Israel, 1949-67
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:32 pm


Developments in the Middle East can best be understood if the history of the region is reviewed. Listed here are a few of the important events that have led to the existing state of affairs.

ca. 1900 B.C.: Abraham journeys from Ur to Canaan.

ca. 1200 B.C.: Moses leads the Israelites' exodus from Egypt.

ca. 1000 B.C.: King David unites the twelve tribes of Israel, then his son Solomon builds the Temple in Jerusalem.

A growing volume of evidence concerning Egyptian border defenses, desert sites where the fleeing Israelites supposedly camped, etc., indicates that the flight from Egypt did not occur in the thirteenth century before Christ; it never occurred at all. Although Johnson writes that the story of Moses had to be true because it "was beyond the power of the human mind to invent," we now know that Moses was no more historically real than Abraham before him.

-- False Testament: Archaeology Refutes the Bible's Claim to History, by Daniel Lazare

ca. 930 B.C.: The Israelite nation divides into two weaker kingdoms, Israel and Judah. Israel is conquered by the Assyrians about 720 B.C., and Judah is destroyed by the Babylonians in 586 B.C.

ca. 538 B.C.: Persia conquers Babylon and permits exiled Jews to return to Jerusalem.

332 B.C.: Greeks conquer the region.

167 B.C.: Jews establish an independent Judaea.

63 B.C.: Romans establish control over Judaea.

ca. 4 B.C.: Jesus is born. He is crucified thirty-three years later after a ministry of three years. Christian churches are established throughout the eastern Roman Empire.

A.D.70: A Jewish revolt against Rome is put down and the Temple is destroyed.

135: Romans suppress a Jewish revolt, killing or forcing almost all Jews of Judaea into exile. The Romans name the province Syria Palaestina.

ca. 325: The Roman Emperor Constantine, a Christian, strengthens his own religion throughout the region.

ca. 570: The Prophet Muhammad is born in Mecca, establishes the Islamic faith, unites the Arabian Peninsula, and dies in 632. Arabic rule and faith spread rapidly throughout Syria Palaestina, Persia, and Egypt.

1099: The first Crusaders capture Jerusalem and establish Christian rule over Palestine.

1187: Saladin, sultan of Egypt, conquers Jerusalem and, except for a fifteen-year interval, Muslims control Palestine until the end of World War I.

1516: The Ottoman Turks take Syria, Palestine, and then Egypt.

1861: The French establish Lebanon as an autonomous district within Syria, under Christian leadership.

1882: British forces occupy Egypt and remain there until 1955.

1917: Great Britain, during World War I, issues the Balfour Declaration, promising a Jewish national home in Palestine, with respect for the rights of non-Jewish Palestinians.

1922: After the Ottoman Empire is defeated in World War I, the League of Nations confirms British mandates over Iraq and Palestine, and a French mandate over Syria and Lebanon. Transjordan is separated from the Palestine Mandate and becomes an autonomous kingdom.

1936: Palestinian Arabs demand a halt to Jewish immigration and a ban on land sales to Jews. British troops attempt to assert control, but violence continues. The Peel Commission recommends partition of Palestine between Arabs and Jews.

1939: Britain announces severe restrictions on Jewish immigration and land purchases in Palestine. Violence erupts from Jewish militants.

1947: Britain lets the United Nations decide what to do about Palestine, which is partitioned into Jewish, Arab, and international areas (Jerusalem and Bethlehem). Fifty-five percent of the territory is allocated to the Jewish state. Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan are now independent states.

1948: The British mandate over Palestine terminates. Israelis declare their independence as a nation, Arab armies attack, and Israel prevails. U.N. General Assembly Resolution 194 establishes a conciliation commission and asserts that refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace should be allowed to do so, that compensation should be paid to others, and that free access to the holy places should be assured.

1949: Armistice agreements with the Arabs allow Israel to gain more land (77 percent of Palestine). Egypt occupies the Gaza Strip. Transjordan, renamed Jordan, controls what is left of the west bank of the Jordan River, including Old Jerusalem, and in 1950 annexes this territory.

1956: Egypt nationalizes the Suez Canal, and Israel joins Britain and France in occupying the canal area. Under international pressure all foreign forces withdraw from Egyptian territories by the next year. U.N. forces are assigned to patrol strategic areas of the Sinai.

1964: The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is established, committed to wage a battle to liberate the homeland of the Palestinian people.

1967: Egypt blockades the Straits of Tiran, and Arab forces make menacing moves. Israel launches preemptive attacks on Egypt, Syria, Iraq, and then Jordan, and within six days occupies the Golan Heights, Gaza, the Sinai, and the West Bank, including Jerusalem.

Six months later, U .N .Security Council Resolution 242 is passed, confirming the inadmissibility of the acquisition of land by force and calling for Israel's withdrawal from occupied territories, the right of all states in the region to live in peace within secure and recognized borders, and a just solution to the refugee problem.

1973: Egypt and Syria attack Israeli forces in the Sinai and Golan Heights. This conflict becomes known as the Yom Kippur War. After sixteen days of war, U.N. Resolution 338 is passed, confirming Resolution 242 and calling for international peace talks. Various disengagement agreements follow.

1974: The Arab summit at Rabat in Morocco unanimously proclaims the PLO as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Israel agrees to withdraw from Syrian territory, except for control of the Golan Heights.

1975: Civil war erupts in Lebanon. With approval from the international community the following year, Syria sends troops to establish order.

1977: Egyptian President Anwar al-Sadat visits Jerusalem and outlines Arab demands to the Israeli Knesset. Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin makes a return visit to Ismailia, with no progress toward peace.

1978: The Camp David Accords are approved by Israel and Egypt, confirming Israel's compliance with U.N. Resolution 242, withdrawal of political and military forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and full autonomy for Palestinians. The Accords outline a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt and other Arab neighbors. The Accords are rejected by the Arabs at the Baghdad summit, and Egypt is isolated.

1979: A peace treaty is signed between Israel and Egypt, guaranteeing withdrawal of Israel from the Sinai, normal diplomatic relations, and Israel's access to the Suez Canal.

1981: Israel escalates establishment of settlements on Palestinian territory. Egyptian President Anwar al- Sadat is assassinated.

1982: In response to terrorist attacks across Lebanon's border, Israeli troops move into Lebanon, seeking to destroy PLO forces there. The militant Lebanese organization known as Hezbollah is established. Subsequent actions by the Israelis in Lebanon draw international criticism.

1985: Israel partially removes its forces from Lebanon.

1987: A Palestinian intifada (uprising) erupts, and Israel responds to the violence with harsh reprisals. The militant Palestinian organization known as Hamas is established.

1988: Jordan cedes its rights in the West Bank and East Jerusalem to the PLO. PLO head Yasir Arafat acknowledges Israel's right to exist and renounces violence. The U.S. and the PLO initiate dialogue.

1991: The Persian Gulf War ejects Iraqi forces that have invaded Kuwait. Many Palestinian exiles move to Jordan. A Middle East peace conference, focusing on Arab-Israeli relations, is convened in Madrid.

1993: Israel and the PLO conclude a peace agreement in Oslo with mutual recognition and a five-year plan to resolve all remaining differences. Militant Palestinians and right-wing Israelis begin attempts to undermine the agreement.

1994: The Palestinian National Authority is established. Israel and Jordan sign a comprehensive peace agreement.

1995: Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin is assassinated by an Israeli right-wing religious fanatic. This setback to the peace process is exacerbated by violent attacks from Palestinian groups opposed to the Oslo Agreement.

1996: Palestinians elect Yasir Arafat as president and elect the members of a legislative council. Israelis return the Likud Party to power, which stalls the Oslo process.

1998: The Wye River Memorandum is issued after talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians, under U .S. auspices. An airport is opened in Gaza, with flights to Arab nations.

2000: Israeli forces are withdrawn from Lebanon except for a disputed area, Shebaa Farms. Peace negotiations at Camp David break down. Ariel Sharon visits the Temple Mount and a second intifada is launched, more violent than the first.

2001: Ariel Sharon is elected prime minister of Israel, committed to rejection of the Oslo peace agreement and an emphasis on national security. The Gaza airport runway is bulldozed.

2002: An Arab League summit meeting endorses a Saudi peace plan based on U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338. Suicide bombings provoke strong Israeli response. Sharon blames Arafat for the violence and confines him in his Ramallah office. Israel begins building a separation barrier within the West Bank.

2003: The Quartet Group (the United States, United Nations, European Union, and Russia) agree on a "road map for peace." Palestinians pledge full support, but Israel rejects key points. Violence continues, and the security barrier in the West Bank draws international criticism for undermining the peace process. An unofficial peace agreement negotiated by Israelis and Palestinians is released with extensive international support as the Geneva Initiative.

2004: Yasir Arafat dies.

2005: Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) is elected president of the Palestinian National Authority. Israel unilaterally evacuates its settlements from the Gaza Strip and four from the West Bank.

January 2006: Ariel Sharon suffers a massive stroke. Palestinians elect a new government, with Hamas winning a small plurality of votes but a majority of parliamentary seats. Israel and the United States isolate Palestine, cutting off funds.

March-August 2006: Ehud Olmert becomes Israel's prime minister, promising that the dividing wall will, in effect, be the new Israeli- West Bank border. Hamas and Hezbollah militants capture Israeli soldiers, and Israeli forces attack Gaza and Lebanon. Hezbollah missiles strike northern Israel. The United Nations approves Resolution 1701, establishing a fragile cease-fire.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:34 pm


One of the major goals of my life, while in political office and since I was retired from the White House by the 1980 election, has been to help ensure a lasting peace for Israelis and others in the Middle East. Many people share the same dream, and at times my own efforts to achieve this goal have been intertwined with some of theirs. It will be good to consider what has brought us to the present situation, the obstacles before us, and some things that can and must be done to bring peace and justice to the region.

No fictional drama could be filled with more excitement, unanticipated happenings, or intriguing characters than this effort to end the ongoing conflict; it is certainly one of the most fascinating and truly important political and military subjects of modern times. The Middle East is perhaps the most volatile region in the world, whose instability is a persistent threat to global peace. It is also the incubator of much of the terrorism that is of such great concern to Americans and citizens of other nations. Although it is not difficult to express the challenges in somewhat simplistic terms, the issues are extremely complex and are derived from both ancient and modern-day political and religious history.

The questions to be considered are almost endless:

What are the prime requisites for peace? What possibilities does the future hold? What common ground already exists on which the contending parties can build a more secure future? Are there better prospects for success from quiescent diplomatic efforts or from bold and public pressure for negotiations? Can there be a stable peace that perpetuates the present circumstances? Must the situation steadily deteriorate until another crisis causes the interested parties to act? Even with full American backing, can Israel's enormous military power prevail over militant Arabs?

Most chilling of all, could the festering differences precipitate a military confrontation involving the use of nuclear weapons? It is known that Israel has a major nuclear arsenal and the capability to launch weapons quickly, and some neighboring states are believed to be attempting to acquire their own atomic bombs. Without progress toward peace, desperation or adventurism on either side could precipitate such a confrontation.

There are growing schisms in the Middle East region, with hardening Arab animosity toward the Israeli-United States alliance. The war in Iraq has dramatized the conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and has strengthened the influence of Iran. Militant Arabs, including Hamas and Hezbollah, have been given new life and influence as they are seen to be struggling against Israeli occupation of Palestine. The absence of any viable peace initiative exacerbates each individual controversy.

In times of greatest discouragement, ultimate hope has rested on the fact that, overwhelmingly, the people in the region -- even those Syrians, Israelis, Lebanese, and Palestinians who are most distrusted by their adversaries -- want the peace efforts to succeed. The rhetoric and demands from all sides may be harsh, but there are obvious areas of agreement that can provide a basis for progress. Private discussions with Arab leaders are much more promising than their public statements would lead one to believe, and in Israel there is a strong and persistent constituency for moderation that is too little heard or appreciated in neighboring states or in America.

Continuing impediments have been the desire of some Israelis for Palestinian land, the refusal of some Arabs to accept Israel as a neighbor, the absence of a clear and authoritative Palestinian voice acceptable to Israel, the refusal of both sides to join peace talks without onerous preconditions, the rise in Islamic fundamentalism, and the recent lack of any protracted effort by the United States to pursue peace based on international law and previous agreements ratified by Israel.

In spite of the obvious need to resolve differences, the peace effort does not have a life of its own; it is not self-sustaining. The United States will always be preoccupied with Iraq, Iran, North Korea, or other strategic responsibilities, and there are competing factors that distract Arab leaders who heretofore had been more inclined to focus on peace with Israel and a just solution to the Palestinian question. Many Arab regimes have become increasingly preoccupied with domestic problems, which include resurgent religious identity, rising expectations among more literate constituencies and the emerging middle classes, a fear of further intrusion by external forces, and stirrings of democracy. There is a tendency for these regimes to free themselves from their Palestinian burden.

The situation is obviously not encouraging, but neither is it hopeless if leaders can remember the progress already made and build on past negotiated agreements. Most Arab regimes have accepted the permanent existence of Israel as an indisputable fact and are no longer calling for an end to the State of Israel, having contrived a common statement at an Arab summit in 2002 that offers peace and normal relations with Israel within its acknowledged international borders and in compliance with other U.N. Security Council resolutions. Almost everyone has accepted the ultimate right of the Palestinian people to decide their own sovereign destiny in a climate of peace.

There is no place for sustained violence, which tends to subvert peace initiatives and perpetuate hatred and combat. Some Palestinians have responded to political and military occupation by launching terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians, a course of action that is both morally reprehensible and politically counterproductive. These dastardly acts have brought widespread condemnation and discredit on the entire Palestinian community -- and are almost suicidal for the Palestinian cause. It has been encouraging to observe an almost complete absence of violence during those all-too-brief intervals when the prospects for peace and justice gave the people hope. This was evident, for instance, during the time of the Camp David Accords in 1978, and when the Palestinians were welcomed to the Madrid conference in 1991, as well as during the several Palestinian elections.

It has always been clear that the antagonists cannot be expected to take the initiative to resolve their own differences. Hatred and distrust in the Middle East are too ingrained and pride is too great for any of the disputing parties to offer invitations or concessions that they know will almost inevitably be rejected. Accommodation must be sought through negotiation with all parties to the dispute, with each having fair representation and the right to participate in free discussions. Compromise is necessary from both sides, with clear distinctions made between what their dreams and ideology dictate and what is pragmatically possible. Although some extremists disagree, most Israelis have learned that they cannot reconstruct the Kingdom of David, which includes all of the West Bank, the Golan Heights, and parts of Lebanon and Jordan. At the same time, most Palestinians have been forced to accept the fact that the nation of Israel will never be erased from the map. Neither side can predict or impose on others the ultimate outcome of negotiations, and any final agreement has to be both voluntary and acceptable to both sides.

Strong support for peace talks must come from the United States, preferably involving representatives of the United Nations, the European Union, and Russia. Until recently, America's leaders were known and expected to exert maximum influence in an objective, nonbiased way to achieve peace in the Middle East. In order to resume this vital role, the United States must be a trusted participant, evenhanded, consistent, unwavering, and enthusiastic -- a partner with both sides and not a judge of either. Although it is inevitable that at times there will be a tilt one way or the other, in the long run the role of honest broker must once again be played by Washington.

"When a promising negotiation evolves, the United States will have to join other wealthy nations in offering the political and economic incentives necessary to bolster what will be at first a fragile understanding and then be prepared to help the peacemakers fend off the radicals and extremists who will seek to subvert what is being carefully created and nurtured.

The three most basic premises are quite clear:

1. Israel's right to exist within recognized borders -- and to live in peace -- must be accepted by Palestinians and all other neighbors;

2. The killing of noncombatants in Israel, Palestine, and Lebanon by bombs, missile attacks, assassinations, or other acts of violence cannot be condoned; and

3. Palestinians must live in peace and dignity in their own land as specified by international law unless modified by good-faith negotiations with Israel.

The recent outbreak of violence in Gaza and between Israel and Lebanon is vivid proof of the need for a comprehensive peace agreement. The United States stands almost alone in its undeviating backing of Israel, while Arab support for militant groups approaches unanimity as violence continues. People of most other nations strongly condemn the excessive destruction and civilian casualties by Israel as they deplore the deliberate provocation of Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah.


A window into the London state-sponsored synthetic terror milieu came in December 2001, when British authorities were forced to arrest and question Mark Yates, a self-styled security expert who ran a firearms training camp in Alabama. Yates was suspected of helping Islamic terrorist patsies from Britain who were to hone their marksmanship skills on American soil before going off to fight for Islamic causes around the globe. Yates, a British bodyguard and firearms trainer who had operations in both the United Kingdom and the United States, allegedly offered "live fire" weapons training in America for aspiring holy warriors. British police thought that Yates was involved on the US end of the "Ultimate Jihad Challenge" training program offered on the London market by the Sakina Security Services company, owned by Suleiman Bilal Zain-ul-abidin. Yates, who was also the operations and training director at the Ground Zero firearms training camp outside Marion, Alabama, denied everything. "Ultimate Jihad Challenge" included instruction in "art of bone breaking," and learning to "improvise explosive devices." British Moslems would be given the opportunity to squeeze off up to 3,000 rounds at a shooting range in the United States before heading off to fight for Islamic causes around the world. "All serious firearms training must be done overseas" because of British gun laws, advertising for the course noted. British prosecutors said their investigators had searched Zain-ul-abidin's apartment and seized documents believed to be related to suspected terrorist mastermind Osama bin Laden and his al-Qaeda network, anti-Semitic material and what appeared to be disabled firearms, including a rifle and two handguns. The Sunday Telegraph reported about another military training course, this time at a secret camp near the village of Yetgoch in southern Wales. Young Moslems and others learned how to use Uzi machine guns at the camp, which was run by Trans Global Security International.

The reports of the Welsh training camp rekindled a debate in Britain over how the UK had become a hotbed for military recruitment by radical Islamic elements. Sheik Omar Bakri Mohammed, a firebrand Islamic leader in London, founder of the fundamentalist al-Muhajiroun organization, and Bin Laden's sometime spokesman, said in 2000 that between 1,800 and 2,000 British Moslems were going abroad each year for military training. "We find young men in university classes or mosques, invite them for a meal and discuss "ongoing attacks being suffered by Moslems in Chechnya, Palestine or Kashmir," Bakri Mohammed said. "We ... make them understand their duty to support the jihad (holy war) struggle verbally, financially and, if they can, physically in order to liberate their homeland." Bakri's al-Muhajiroun group, like al Qaeda, advocated wiping out the world's 50-plus existing Moslem-majority states and replacing them with a single "khilafah" (caliphate), or Islamic state. (Sunday Telegraph, MSNBC, December 27, 2001)

Satellite phone records of a phone used by Osama bin Laden during 1996-98, revealed that "Britain was at the heart of the terrorist's planning for his worldwide campaign of murder and destruction," according to the London Sunday Times. Bin Laden and his most senior aides made more calls to Britain than to any other country; they made more than 260 calls from Afghanistan to 27 numbers in Britain. According to documents from the trial of the US east African embassy bombings, the telephone was bought in 1996 with the help of Dr Sa ad al Fagih, 45, the head of the London-based Movement for Islamic Reform in Arabia. Al Fagih had been regularly used by the BBC as an expert on Bin Laden. His credit card was also used to buy more than 3,000 minutes of pre-paid airtime. The records showed calls to ten other countries, the next most frequent after the UK being Yemen. There were no calls to Iraq. (London Sunday Times, March 24, 2002)


The role of London as the leading center of Islamic radicalism has been an open secret for years, but has never been reported by the US controlled corporate media. In the nineteenth century, when Mazzini and Marx operated out of London, the slogan was that "England supports all revolutions but her own." In the post-colonial world, the British have found it to their advantage to encourage violent movements which could be used for destabilizations and assassinations in the former colonies, which their ex-masters did not want to see become strong and effective modern states. Between 1995 and 1999, protests were lodged by many countries concerning the willingness of the British government to permit terror groups to operate from British territory. Among the protestors were: Israel, Algeria, Turkey, Libya, Yemen, India, Egypt, France, Peru, Germany, Nigeria, and Russia. This is a list which, if widely known, might force certain US radio commentators to change their world picture about who is soft on terrorism.

A number of groups which were cited as terrorist organizations by the US State Department had their headquarters in London. Among them were the Islamic Group of Egypt, led by Bin Laden's current right-hand man, Zawahiri, who was a known participant in the plot to assassinate Egyptian President Sadat; this was also the group which had murdered foreign tourists at Luxor in an attempt to wreck the Egyptian tourist industry. Also present in London were Al Jihad of Egypt, Hamas of Palestine, the Armed Islamic Group (GIA) of Algeria (responsible for large-scale massacres in that country), the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK), which attacked targets in Turkey, and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (Tamil Tigers) of Sri Lanka, who assassinated Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Ghandi. Sheikh Bakri, Bin Laden spokesman's spokesman, was openly active in London into mid-1998 and later; he gave a press conference after the bombings of the US East African embassies. The killings of figures like Sadat and Rajiv Ghandi should indicate the scale of the destabilization in developing countries of which some of these groups are capable.

Non-Anglo-Saxon press organs have from time to time pointed up the role of London in worldwide subversion. "The track of ... the GIA leader in Paris leads to Great Britain. The British capital has served as logistical and financial base for the terrorists," wrote Le Figaro on Nov. 3, 1995, in the wake of a murderous terror attack carried out in France. A report by the French National Assembly in October 2001 alleged that London played the key role as clearinghouse for money laundering of criminal and terrorist organizations. On March 3, 1996: Hamas bombed a market in Jerusalem, leaving 12 Israelis dead. A British newspaper reported soon after: "Israeli security sources say the fanatics ... are funded and controlled through secret cells operating here ... Military chiefs in Jerusalem detailed how Islamic groups raised £7 million in donations from British organizations." (Daily Express, London, March 5, 1996)

In the midst of a campaign of destabilization against Egypt in the mid-1990s, the semi-official organ of the Egyptian government pointed out that "Britain has become the number one base in the world for international terrorism." (Al Ahram, Cairo, September 7, 1996) Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak noted that "... some states, like Britain, give political asylum to terrorists, and these states will pay the price for that." (Al-Hayat, September 18, 1996) British newspapers were also alarmed by the level of lslamic extremist activity they saw around them. By the late 1990s, there were so many Islamic extremists in London that the city had acquired the nickname of "Londonistan." The leading right-wing paper in the UK wrote: "Britain is now an international center for Islamic militancy on a huge scale ... and the capital is home to a bewildering variety of radical Islamic movements, many of which make no secret of their commitment to violence and terrorism to achieve their goals." (London Daily Telegraph, November 20, 1999) President Putin of Russia saw a direct link between the London Islamic scene and terrorism in his own country. He said in an interview with a German news magazine: "In London, there is a recruitment station for people wanting to join combat in Chechnya. Today -- not officially, but effectively in the open -- they are talking there about recruiting volunteers to go to Afghanistan." (Focus, September 2001)

Brixton Mosque was one of the notorious centers for terrorist recruitment in the heart of London. This was the home base of Zacharias Mousawi, the French citizen put on trial in Alexandria, Va. It was also the home of Richard Reid, the shoe bomber of December 2001. Imam Qureshi of Brixton and others were allowed by the British authorities to preach anti-US sermons to the some 4,000 Moslem inmates in British prisons, and thus to recruit new patsies for the world-wide terror machine. According to Bakri, Bin Laden's spokesman, during the late 1990s 2,000 fighters were trained yearly, including many in the US because of the lax firearms legislation. The rival of Brixton Mosque was the equally redoubtable Finsbury Mosque, the home of the Saudi demagogue al Masri, who was finally taken into custody in the spring of 2004. There is every reason to believe that London is one of the main recruiting grounds for patsies, dupes, fanatics, double agents, and other roustabouts of the terrorist scene.

-- 9/11 Synthetic Terrorism Made in USA, by Webster Griffin Tarpley

As detailed by Ben Barber, The Washington Times, 5/7/2002, "The Saudi government gave $135 million in 16 months to fund terrorism. The money goes to a list of 13 charities, and seven of them fund Hamas," which the State Department lists as a terrorist organization. As detailed in The Washington Times, 8/24/2002, another Saudi charity, Al-Haramain also uses "its funds to finance terrorism."

-- America Betrayed, by Rhawn Joseph, Ph.D.

In the final analysis, the different peoples of the Middle East have their own viewpoints, their own grievances, their own goals and aspirations. But it is Israel that remains the key, the tiny vortex around which swirl the winds of hatred, intolerance, and bloodshed. The indomitable people of Israel are still attempting to define their future, the basic character of their nation, its geographical boundaries, and conditions under which the legitimate rights of the Palestinians can be honored and an accommodation forged with its neighbors. These internal decisions will have to be made in consultation with Arabs who are basically antagonistic -- perhaps as difficult a political prospect as history has ever seen. Many Israelis, like their neighbors, are eagerly seeking a measure of normalized existence, but the verbal threats from Iran and some radical Arabs and the terrorist attacks in the occupied territories and even within Israel have kept alive the feelings of distrust and alienation among Israelis toward their neighbors. The most extreme and obnoxious statements have come from Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has described the Holocaust as "a myth" and urged that Israel be annihilated or moved from the Middle East to Europe.

The Arabs must recognize the reality that is Israel, just as the Israelis must accept a Palestinian state in the small remaining portion of territorial homeland allotted to the Palestinians by the United Nations and previous peace agreements. Palestinian human rights must be protected as generally recognized under international law, including self-determination, free speech, equal treatment of all persons, freedom from prolonged military domination and imprisonment without trial, the right of families to be reunited, the sanctity of ownership of property, and the right of non-belligerent people to live in peace.

The Bible says that when the first blood was shed among His children, God asked Cain, the slayer, "Where is Abel thy brother?" And he said, "I know not. Am I my brother's keeper?" And the Lord said, "What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground. And now art thou cursed ..." (Genesis 4:9-11). The blood of Abraham, [1] God's father of the chosen, still flows in the veins of Arab, Jew, and Christian, and too much of it has been spilled in grasping for the inheritance of the revered patriarch in the Middle East. The spilled blood in the Holy Land still cries out to God -- an anguished cry for peace.

It will be seen that there is a formula for peace with justice in this small and unique portion of the world. It is compatible with international law and sustained American government policy, has the approval of most Israelis and Palestinians, and conforms to agreements previously consummated -- but later renounced. It is this blueprint that we will now explore.



1. I used this phrase as the title of my earlier book about the Middle East, The Blood of Abraham (Boston: Houghton-Mifflin, 1985; repr. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1993).
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:34 pm


I have visited Israel many times and have discussed existing circumstances and future prospects with strong-willed persons who represent many different points of view, both Israelis at home and Jews in other countries who retain an intense interest in the nation and its policies. I have continued to learn both during and after my years in the White House, but even before I was president, I established personal relationships with Yitzhak Rabin, Moshe Dayan, Golda Meir, Abba Eban, and other Israeli leaders and learned all I could about Israel and its political and military challenges. Since this is when I formed most of my lasting impressions of Israel, I'll cover these early experiences in some detail.

My personal introduction to Israel came at a time when its citizens were filled with confidence and optimism about their future. During its early years, Israel had appeared vulnerable to punishing Arab attacks, but the 1967 war demonstrated that its forces were far more effective than those of its neighbors. The Israeli air force destroyed most of the opposition, and land forces moved south and west through the Gaza Strip and the arid Sinai desert to the Suez Canal, east to the Jordan River to occupy the West Bank, and northeast to take the Golan Heights. One of the heroes of the war was General Yitzhak Rabin. As part of an effort by Israel to strengthen even further its relationship with American leaders, he came to Georgia when I was governor. He seemed pleased to answer my eager questions about military and political relationships in the Middle East and invited me to visit Israel at an early date as his guest.

Having studied Bible lessons since early childhood and taught them for twenty years, I was infatuated with the Holy Land, and my wife, Rosalynn, and I arranged to accept his invitation in 1973. In preparing for this trip, we pored over maps and reviewed both the ancient and modern history of Israel. Our choice of how to speed the ten-day visit was a series of compromises because I was torn between the pleasure of visiting the Christian holy places I had always longed to see and the knowledge that I should concentrate on preparing for another political career. With only a handful of my closest friends knowing of my dreams, I was seriously planning a future role as president.

We first met briefly with Prime Minister Golda Meir, who assigned us a used Mercedes station wagon and a young student as driver. Her instructions were that we would have seven days to travel to any places of our choice, and during the last three days we would receive what she described as confidential briefings on Israel's security interests and relationships with other nations in the region. She wanted our final visit to be with her, so she could answer any questions and summarize the message of her government.

Our driver's name was Giora Avidar; he was a very knowledgeable young son of a diplomat. He gave me an elementary guidebook to the Hebrew language, and I practiced reading the road signs as we traveled from place to place. I still have the booklet, in which I made notes during our visit. I have also retained a map of Israel that he provided. There is no indication of a "green line" between Israel and the West Bank or Gaza, and the map also includes a substantial portion of the Golan Heights and all of the Sinai. There was an expressed 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.

We spent our first three days in and around Jerusalem, beginning each morning before sunrise, because I wanted to see the city come to life when few tourists were about and to catch a flavor of how it might have been two thousand years earlier, when Jesus strolled the same streets. We visited the bakeries where bread was prepared for the market in large open ovens, sipped coffee or tea in the small shops, and watched vendors arrange their wares for the unfolding day. I had long talks with archaeologists who were excavating in the biblical City of David, and they described how the detritus of past civilizations had constantly raised the level of the streets on an average of about one foot a century. This made it easier for us to understand why the holy sites we visited in Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho, and Nazareth were so different from what we had expected. They seemed buried below ground, closed in, tinseled, and highly commercial, not simple and primitive, as we had always imagined. Only when we traveled in the open spaces and saw the Mount of Olives, the Garden Tomb, Cana, Mount Carmel, the Sea of Galilee, the Mount of Beatitudes, Capernaum, Bethsaida, and the Jordan River did we feel that we were looking at the country as it might have appeared in biblical times.

As we arrived at each destination, Giora introduced us as special guests of Prime Minister Meir and General Rabin, and our hosts seemed eager to answer our questions and make us feel welcome and at home. Our most enjoyable and informative outing was in Nazareth. After visiting the Church of the Annunciation and the subterranean dwellings that were said to typify those where Jesus lived, we were guests at an exciting and somewhat boisterous lunch with the Muslim mayor, his Christian deputy, the Jewish mayor of Upper Nazareth, and a number of their families and friends. For several hours we ate prodigious quantities of lamb that had been roasted whole, fruit, vegetables, bread, and a thick stew that we scooped up with our fingers. I remember that there were several bottles of Johnnie Walker Red Label scotch down the center of the long table, largely consumed during the numerous toasts offered on every conceivable subject, and later we drank the thick black coffee typical of the region.

We were intrigued with how the officials of Nazareth were striving to increase tourism and promote economic progress, and in the afternoon we went over to the new city being built to house some of the recent immigrants from the Soviet Union, who seemed to be arriving in a steady stream. The wall paint was hardly dry when each family moved into their new apartment, and there were plans to build three thousand more units to house those yet to come. Immigration had increased following Israel's victory in the 1967 war, reaching its highest level the year we were there. The mayor said that up to a hundred factories around metropolitan Nazareth would provide jobs for both the old and new residents. Some of the longtime citizens complained about the special treatment being given to the newcomers, but these dissident voices were not widespread or persistent. We talked to several of the Soviet settlers, who bragged to the younger ones that they had begun studying Hebrew from the first day in their new homes.

We continued our travels to Cana and then along the paths of Jesus in his early ministry to Capernaum and other communities around the Sea of Galilee. It was especially interesting to visit with some of the few surviving Samaritans, who complained to us that their holy sites and culture were not being respected by Israeli authorities -- the same complaint heard by Jesus and his disciples almost two thousand years earlier.

Later we visited several kibbutzim (collective farms or settlements), one of them already fifty-four years old. As a farmer, I was interested to learn that they grew apples and were able to keep them in cold storage for sale almost year-round and that their cows were milked three times daily (instead of the usual two milkings) to increase production and profits. The next morning was the Sabbath, and at the appointed time we entered the synagogue, said a silent prayer, and then stood quietly just inside the door. Only two other worshipers appeared. When I asked if this was typical, Giora gave a wry smile and shrugged his shoulders as if it was not important either way.

We obtained a different perspective when we visited a settlement on the Golan Heights, taken from Syria in 1967. There we found much more of a pioneer spirit and were impressed by the quiet dedication of the young families who farmed together. They seemed to share everything and were quite proud of their hard manual labor and the absence of worldly goods in their homes. The kibbutz leaders took us to the steep western slope overlooking Galilee to show us gun emplacements that had been built and used by the Syrians against the Israelis during the 1967 war. We could see far below us the small villages along the lakeshore, homes in the valley, automobiles on the roads, and tractors cultivating the fields. It was obvious why control of this site was so important to Israel militarily, pending a peace agreement with Syria. The young Israelis spoke with growing fervor, explaining that the strength of Israel was being tested every day and must never be found wanting. They were convinced that their own kibbutz was valuable both economically and militarily and made it clear to us that they intended never to have enemy guns firing down on Israelis from these cliffs again.

There were only about 1,500 Jewish settlers in the occupied territories at that time, and our natural presumption was that Israel would dismantle the unwanted settlements to comply with international law, including U.N. Security Council resolutions that had been supported by both Israel and the United States. I knew that Prime Minister Meir had said that there were no separate Palestinian people, but we assumed this to mean there should be no future racial delineation between Jews and Gentiles.

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 East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and Gaza.

After going to sea on one of the missile boats that had been spirited from the French despite the post-1967 arms embargo against Israel, we drove east and then south as close as we could to the Jordan River. All our lives we had studied and sung about this stream, so we visualized a mighty current with almost magical qualities. We were amazed to find that it was not as large as the small creeks that flow through our own farm. We learned that much of the water was being diverted from the stream to irrigate Israeli crops -- then one of the prime causes of the animosity between Israel and its eastern neighbors. Barbed wire and roadblocks kept us away from the security zone along the river's banks, but with special permission from a border security guard, I took a quick dip in the Jordan River near where I thought Jesus had been baptized by John the Baptist.

At the Allen by Bridge, which crossed the stream, we watched for a while as large numbers of people and vehicles moved to and from Jordan. The customs officials told us that only routine security checks were being made, and during the last three years, they said, more than three-quarters of a million Arabs had visited Israel legally. With a wink, one of the guards added that they could only estimate how many illegal visitors there had been, but that some of them (refer- ring to captured terrorists) had never been able to return home to Jordan.

Later, all of us experienced the extraordinary buoyancy as we swam in the Dead Sea. We noticed that the bathhouses were somewhat distant from the shore, and the attendant said that the water level had been dropping as more and more irrigation systems tapped the dwindling stream. He said there would ultimately be two small seas if the trend continued. After we finished our ambitious itinerary as tourists, we followed the schedule that had been prepared by Israeli officials. We went with General Rabin to Bethel, a training camp in the occupied territories where I was asked to participate in a military graduation ceremony. This facility in the West Bank had been used by the Jordanians for the same purpose before Israel occupied the area in the Six Day War. The soldiers stood rigidly at attention, and, as each name was called, the graduate ran at top speed to the reviewing stand, where the commander delivered a diploma and I presented a "Sword of the Spirit" (a Hebrew Bible), which was one of the few indications of a religious commitment that I observed during our visit.

General Rabin described the close relationship that Israel had with South Africa in the diamond trade (he had returned from there a day or two early to greet us) but commented that the South African system of apartheid could not long survive. When I asked about his own political future, he said that he would have a place on the Labor Party list but had not yet been assured of a cabinet post.

At that time, Foreign Minister Abba Eban was the best-known Israeli, famous for the eloquence of his speeches in the United Nations, and I was excited when he invited us to meet with him. Not surprisingly, he was full of ideas about Israel's future, some of which proved to be remarkably prescient. He said that the occupied territories were a burden and not an asset. Arabs and Jews were inherently incompatible and would ultimately have to be separated. The detention centers and associated punitive and repressive procedures necessary to govern hundreds of thousands of Arabs against their will would torment Israel with a kind of quasi-colonial situation that was being abolished throughout the rest of the world. When questioned, he replied without explanation that the solution to this problem was being evolved. (1 knew that some Israeli leaders were contemplating massive immigration from both Russia and tl1e United States plus encouraging Arabs to emigrate to other nations.) Eban explained his extraordinary role in the United Nations by saying, "If I were foreign minister of the only Arab nation surrounded by thirty-nine hostile Jewish ones, I would turn to the U.N. for support."

Major General Eliahu Zeira, head of Israeli military intelligence, and Army Chief of Staff Haim Bar Lev gave me private and "top secret" briefings on the military and political situation in the neighboring countries, with an emphasis on Syria and Egypt. Again and again they referred to the 1967 war as an example of Israel's invulnerability and left no doubt that they were thoroughly prepared for any eventuality. Although only 5 percent of lsraeli military personnel were kept in uniform, their intelligence was excellent and the mobilization time for reserve troops would be very brief. Describing their "defensive" military forces, the top commanders acknowledged the vital alliance with the United States but emphasized Israel's self-sufficiency if given adequate supplies and permission to produce their own versions of U.S. aircraft, tanks, and other military materiel. I presumed that this message was one of the reasons for my invitation to visit.

During our final hours in Jerusalem we were invited to attend a session of the Knesset, where Prime Minister Meir addressed the assembly. I commented on the No Smoking signs around the auditorium, which everyone was obeying except the prime minister, and Giora explained: "We have a choice to make. Either have no signs and everyone smoking or put up signs and have one person smoke. We decided that one person smoking wouldn't be too bad."

Later, in her office, I thanked the prime minister for making possible our wonderful visit, and she asked if I had any observations I would like to share. With some hesitation, I said that I had long taught lessons from the Hebrew Scriptures and that a common historical pattern was that Israel was punished whenever the leaders turned away from devout worship of God. I asked if she was concerned about the secular nature of her Labor government. She seemed surprised at my temerity and dismissed my comments with a shrug and a laugh. She lit one cigarette from another and then said that "orthodox" Jews still existed and could assume that portion of the nation's responsibility. She was referring to the religious Jews in the Israeli parliament, who were sometimes a real thorn in her side. She added, "If you attend a session of the Knesset, you will see them in action and will know that they have not lost their faith." With Israel's system of elections, which necessitates a coalition of parties to form a ruling majority, the minority religious organizations had an influence far exceeding their numerical strength.

Neither Mrs. Meir nor I realized it then, but Menachem Begin, the leader of the Herut Party with only 22 percent of the Knesset seats, would be prime minister of Israel within four years (and I would be president of the United States). Much of Begin's political strength would come from his deep religious convictions.

Throughout our travels we found the country to be surprisingly relaxed and saw only a handful of people in uniform, mostly directing traffic at the busier intersections. Also, there seemed to be an easy relationship among the different kinds of people we met, including Jews and Arabs. Later, I realized that I had had few personal contacts or political discussions with Arabs who were not living inside Israel, but at the time their plight seemed of relative insignificance to me.

I recorded some of the private and public comments that indicate how the atmosphere in Israel was buoyant with a sense of success and prosperity:

"The United States is our only important friend."

"The Russians now want peace in the Middle East. They cannot afford another major defeat of their Arab allies."

"The Europeans are obsessed with economics. France is our worst enemy in the Common Market -- moralistic to a fault."

"Arabs are incompatible with us; they have no loyalty to the Israeli flag. Israeli Arabs are the fastest-growing community on earth, and it's only Jewish immigration that will let us retain a majority."

"The Arab oil weapon is not a real threat. They need dollars more than the world needs their oil. Israel receives 90 percent of its oil needs from the Sinai and Iran. We have no foreseeable problems in obtaining enough fuel."

"No one should fear the Arab nations. They have been badly beaten in every conflict and eventually will have to sue for peace."

We left convinced that the Israelis were dominant but just, the Arabs quiescent because their rights were being protected, and the political and military situation destined to remain stable until land was swapped for peace. I was excited and optimistic about the apparent commitment of the Israelis to establish a nation that would be a homeland for the Jews, dedicated to the Judeo-Christian principles of peace and justice, and determined to live in harmony with all their neighbors. Although aware of the subservient status of the Palestinians, I was reassured by the assumption that Israel would withdraw from the occupied territories in exchange for peace. I was reminded of the words of Israel's first president, Chaim Weizmann: "I am certain the world will judge the Jewish state by how it will treat the Arabs."

After returning home, I monitored developments in the Middle East very closely. Absorbed with maintaining their control of the West Bank and continuing to build their economy and world alliances, the Israelis were caught completely by surprise four months after my visit, in October 1973, when Presidents Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt and Hafez al-Assad of Syria orchestrated simultaneous attacks by their forces into the Sinai and the Golan Heights, both occupied by Israel. Well armed with Soviet weapons, the Arabs were at first successful, but Israeli tenacity and additional military supplies from the United States eventually turned the tide.

I was deeply concerned when the combined forces of the superpowers almost came into conflict as Israel's military forces crossed the Suez Canal and were moving toward Cairo, Egypt. The nuclear armadas of the Soviet Union (defending Egypt) and the United States (supporting Israel) were put on high alert for the only time in history. Fortunately, the two great nations used their influence to bring about a cease-fire after twenty days of combat, and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger managed to negotiate permanent disengagement agreements.
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Chapter 3: MY PRESIDENCY, 1977-81

The 1973 war introduced major changes in the character of the Middle East. The effective performance of the Egyptian and Syrian armies increased the stature of both President Anwar al-Sadat of Egypt and President Hafez al- Assad of Syria. The Arab states demonstrated that they were willing to use oil as a weapon in support of Arab interests, through embargo and price increases. In Israel, 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.

The PLO became a powerful political entity, able to arouse strong support in international forums from the Arabs, the Soviet Union, most Third World countries, and many others. However, U.S. government leaders pledged not to recognize or negotiate with the PLO until the organization officially acknowledged Israel's right to exist and accepted U.N. Resolution 242, which confirmed Israel's existence within its 1949 borders. A more important problem was that the PLO's rejection of Israel was shared by the leaders of all Arab nations, following four wars in the previous twenty-five years.

These were the events that I monitored after returning home from my first visit to Israel and during my race for president. It was a rare day on the campaign trail that I did not receive questions from Jewish citizens about the interests of Israel, and my growing team of issue analysts provided me with briefing papers that I could study. I made repeated promises that I would seek to invigorate the dormant peace effort, and after I was elected and before my inauguration I made a speech at the Smithsonian Institution in which I listed this as a major foreign policy goal.

Since the United States had to play a strong role in any peace effort, I reviewed the official positions of my predecessors on the key issues. Our nation's constant policy had been predicated on a few key United Nations Security Council resolutions, notably 242 of 1967 (Appendix 1) and 338 of 1973 (Appendix 2). Approved unanimously and still applicable, their basic premise is that Israel's acquisition of territory by force is illegal and that Israel must withdraw from occupied territories; that Israel has the right to live in peace within secure and recognized boundaries; that the refugee problem must be settled; and that the international community should assist with negotiations to achieve a just and durable peace in the Middle East. More specifically, U.S. policy was that Israeli settlements in the West Bank and Gaza were "illegal and obstacles to peace." One of my first and most controversial public statements came in March 1977, just a few weeks after I became president, when I reviewed these same premises and added, "There has to be a homeland provided for the Palestinian refugees who have suffered for many, many years." This would be the first move toward supporting a Palestinian state.

Two weeks later, President Sadat came to Washington for a state visit, and after the official banquet he and I went upstairs to the living quarters in the White House. During a long, private conversation it became obvious that his inclination to work with me on peace negotiations was already well developed, but he had not decided on any firm plan to reach what might become our common goal. Sadat told me plainly that he was willing to take bold steps toward peace, all of them based on the prevailing U.N. Security Council resolutions. We discussed some of the specific elements of possible direct negotiations in the future: Israel's permanent boundaries, the status of Jerusalem, Palestinian rights, and -- almost inconceivable at the time -- free trade and open borders between the two nations, plus full diplomatic recognition and the exchange of ambassadors.

Menachem Begin replaced Yitzhak Rabin as prime minister a month later, and I quickly learned all I could about Israel's new leader. His surprising victory ended the uninterrupted domination of the Labor Party since Israel's independence. Begin had put together a majority coalition that accepted his premise that the land in Gaza and the West Bank belonged rightfully to the State of Israel and should not be exchanged for a permanent peace agreement with the Arabs. Public opinion varied widely, but there was no doubt in 1977 that a more hawkish attitude now prevailed in the government of Israel. I was deeply concerned but sent him personal congratulations and an invitation to visit me in Washington.

Although many factors had influenced the outcome of the Israeli election, age and ethnic differences strongly favored the Likud over the Labor alignment. Oriental Jews (known as Sephardim), whose families had come from the Middle East and Africa, gave the Likud coalition parties a political margin in 1977, and they were inclined to support a much more militant policy in dealing with the occupied territories. Although Begin was not one of them by birth, his philosophy and demeanor were attractive to the Sephardic voters. Also, the Sephardim were generally younger, more conservative, and nearer the bottom of the economic ladder and they resented the more prosperous and sophisticated Jewish immigrants from Europe and America (known as Ashkenazim), who had furnished almost all of Israel's previous leaders. The Sephardic families had a higher birth rate than the Ashkenazim, and now, combined with many immigrants, they had become a strong political force.

The personal character of Menachem Begin was also a major factor in the victory. After he and his family suffered persecution in Eastern Europe and Siberia for his political activity as a Zionist, he was released from a Soviet prison and went to Palestine in 1942. He became the leader of a militant underground group called the Irgun, which espoused the maximum demands of Zionism. These included driving British forces out of Palestine. He fought with every weapon available against the British, who branded him as the preeminent terrorist in the region. A man of personal courage and single-minded devotion to his goals, he took pride in being a "fighting Jew." I realized that Israel's new prime minister, with whom I would be dealing, would be prepared to resort to extreme measures to achieve the goals in which he believed.

In Israel, Begin put forward clear and blunt answers to complex questions about peace and war, religion, the Palestinians, finance, and economics. I expected him to have a clear idea of when he might yield and what he would not give up in negotiations with his Arab neighbors and the United States. However, when he came to Washington to meet with me, I found the prime minister quite willing to pursue some of the major goals that I had discussed with Sadat.

I also had definitive discussions with King Hussein of Jordan and President Assad of Syria, but it was obvious that they would not be willing to participate in the kind of peace effort that Sadat, Begin, and I had discussed. The economic and political pressures among the Arab leaders to maintain a unanimous condemnation of Israel were overwhelming. The PLO was out of diplomatic bounds for me, still officially classified by the United States as a terrorist organization. Despite this restraint, I sought through unofficial channels to induce Arafat to accept the key U.N. resolutions so that the PLO could join in peace efforts, but he refused.

I sent Sadat a handwritten letter telling him how "extremely important -- perhaps vital" it was for us to work together, and he and I discussed various possibilities by telephone. In November 1977, Sadat made a dramatic peace initiative by going directly to Jerusalem. Begin received Sadat graciously and listened with apparent composure while the Egyptian president laid down in no uncertain terms the strongest Arab position, which included Israel's immediate withdrawal from all occupied territories and the right of return of Palestinians to their former homes. I found it interesting that Sadat decided not to follow the counsel of his advisers that he make the speech in English for the world audience, but to deliver it in Arabic for the benefit of his Arab neighbors. The symbolism of his presence obscured the harshness of his actual words, so the reaction in Western nations was overwhelmingly favorable and the Israeli public responded with excitement and enthusiasm. The responses of the Saudis, Jordanians, and some of the other moderate Arab leaders were cautious, but Syria broke diplomatic relations with Egypt, and high officials in Damascus, Baghdad, Tripoli, and the PLO called for Sadat's assassination.

Prime Minister Begin came to the White House to discuss specific peace proposals, and there was a flurry of meetings between the Egyptians and Israelis that culminated shortly after Christmas in a return visit by Begin to Egypt. Sadat reported to me that the session was completely unsatisfactory, an apparently fatal setback for his peace initiative, because Begin was insisting that Israeli settlements must remain on Egyptian land in the Sinai. It appeared that the only permanent result of Sadat's move was an end to any prospect for an international peace conference involving the Soviets. I consulted with as many Arab leaders as possible on a fast New Year's trip to the region and found them somewhat supportive of Sadat in private but quite critical in their public statements, honoring a pledge of unanimity with their other Arab brothers.

During the early part of 1978, Sadat sent me a private message that he intended to come to the United States and publicly condemn Begin as a betrayer of the peace process. Rosalynn and I invited Anwar and his wife, Jehan, to Camp David for a personal visit, and after a weekend of intense talks, Sadat was convinced to cancel his planned speech and join me in search of an agreement.

Unfortunately, my working relationship with Menachem Begin became even more difficult in March, when the PLO launched an attack on Israel from a base in Southern Lebanon. A sightseeing bus was seized and thirty-five Israelis were killed. I publicly condemned this outrageous act, but my sympathy was strained three days later when Israel invaded Lebanon and used American-made antipersonnel cluster bombs against Beirut and other urban centers, killing hundreds of civilians and leaving thousands homeless. I considered this major invasion to be all overreaction to the PLO attack, a serious threat to peace in the region, and perhaps part of a plan to establish a permanent Israeli presence in Southern Lebanon. Also, such use of American weapons violated a legal requirement that armaments sold by us be used only for Israeli defense against an attack.

After consulting with key supporters of Israel in the U.S. Senate, I informed Prime Minister Begin that if Israeli forces remained in Lebanon, I would have to notify Congress, as required by law, that U.S. 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 U.N. 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.

Our efforts to rejuvenate the overall peace process were fruitless during the spring and summer. My next act was almost one of desperation. I decided to invite both Begin and Sadat to Camp David so that we could be away from routine duties for a few days and, in relative isolation, I could act as mediator between the two national delegations. They accepted without delay, and on September 4 we began what evolved into a thirteen-day session, which involved teams of about fifty on each side. My aim was to have Israelis and Egyptians understand and accept the compatibility of many of their goals and the advantages to both nations in resolving their differences. We had to address such basic questions as Israeli withdrawal from the occupied territories, Palestinian rights, Israel's security, an end to the Arab trade embargo, open borders between Israel and Egypt, the rights of Israeli ships to transit the Suez Canal, and the sensitive issues concerning sovereignty over Jerusalem and access to the holy places. In the process, I hoped to achieve a permanent peace between the two countries based on full diplomatic recognition as would be confirmed by a bilateral peace treaty.

Begin and Sadat were personally incompatible, and I decided after a few unpleasant encounters that they should not attempt to negotiate with each other. Instead, I worked during the last ten days and nights with each or with their representatives separately. Although this approach was more difficult for me -- I had to go from one negotiating session to another -- there were advantages in that it avoided the harsh rhetoric and personal arguing between the two leaders. At least with Begin, every word of the final agreement was carefully considered, and he and I spent a lot of time perusing a thesaurus and a dictionary. He was a careful semanticist. He surprised me once when I had proposed autonomy for the Palestinians; he insisted on "full autonomy." [1]

Begin came to Camp David intending just to work out a statement of broad, general principles for a peace agreement, leaving to subordinates the task of resolving the more difficult details. It was soon obvious that he was more interested in discussing the Sinai than the West Bank and Gaza, and he spent the best part of his energy on the minute details of each proposal. The other key members of the Israeli team, Foreign Minister Moshe Dayan, Defense Minister Ezer Weizman, and Attorney General Aharon Barak, desired as full an agreement as possible with the Egyptians, and they were often able to convince Begin that a particular proposal was beneficial to Israel and would be approved by its citizens.

Sadat wanted a comprehensive peace agreement, and he was the most forthcoming member of the Egyptian delegation. His general requirements were that all Israelis leave the Egyptian Sinai and that there be a comprehensive accord involving the occupied territories, Palestinian rights, and Israel's commitment to resolve peacefully any further disputes with its neighbors. Both sides would have to pledge to honor U.N. Resolution 242. Sadat usually left the details of the negotiations to me or the key negotiator of his Egyptian team, Osama el Baz.

On several occasions either Begin or Sadat was ready to terminate the discussions and return home, but we finally negotiated the Camp David Accords (Appendix 3), including the framework of a peace treaty between the two nations (Appendix 4). The two leaders and their advisers even agreed upon my carefully worded paragraph on the most sensitive issue of all, the Holy City:

Jerusalem, the city of peace, is holy to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, and all peoples must have free access to it and enjoy the free exercise of worship and the right to visit and transit to the holy places without distinction or discrimination. The holy places of each faith will be under the administration and control of their representatives. A municipal council representative of the inhabitants of the city shall supervise essential functions in the city such as public utilities, public transportation, and tourism and shall ensure that each community can maintain its own cultural and educational institutions.

At the last minute, however, after several days of unanimous agreement, both Sadat and Begin decided that there were already enough controversial elements in the Accords and requested that this paragraph be deleted from the final text.


Map 4: Israel 1967-82

It is to be remembered that the Camp David Accords, signed by Sadat and Begin and officially ratified by both governments, reconfirmed a specific commitment to honor U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338, which prohibit acquisition of land by force and call for Israel's withdrawal from occupied territories. The Accords prescribe "full autonomy" for inhabitants of the occupied territories, withdrawal of Israeli military and civilian forces from the West Bank and Gaza, and the recognition of the Palestinian people as a separate political entity with a right to determine their own future, a major step toward a Palestinian state. They specify that Palestinians are to participate as equals in further negotiations, and the final status of the West Bank and Gaza is to be submitted "to a vote by the elected representatives of the inhabitants of the West Bank and Gaza." Furthermore, the Accords generally recognized that continuing to treat non- Jews in the occupied territories as a substratum of society is contrary to the principles of morality and justice on which democracies are founded. Begin and Sadat agreed that these apparently insurmountable problems concerning Palestinian rights would be overcome.

In addition, the framework for an Egyptian-Israeli peace agreement was signed, calling for Israel's withdrawal from a demilitarized Sinai and the dismantling of settlements on Egyptian land, diplomatic relations between Israel and Egypt, borders open to trade and commerce, Israeli ships guaranteed passage through the Suez Canal, and a permanent peace treaty to confirm these agreements.

Sadat always insisted that the first priority must be adherence to U.N. Resolution 242 and self-determination for the Palestinians, and everyone (perhaps excepting Begin) was convinced that these rights had been protected in the final document. All of us (including the prime minister) were also confident that the final terms of the treaty could be concluded within the three-month target time. Everyone knew that if Israel began building new settlements, the promise to grant the Palestinians "full autonomy," with an equal or final voice in determining the ultimate status of the occupied territories, would be violated. Perhaps the most serious omission of the Camp David talks was the failure to clarify in writing Begin's verbal promise concerning the settlement freeze during subsequent peace talks.

One personal benefit to me from the long days of negotiation was a lifetime friendship with Ezer Weizman, who served as Israel's defense minister. More than any other member of Begin's team, I found Ezer eager to reach a comprehensive peace agreement, and he was a person with whom I could discuss very sensitive issues with frankness and confidence. He also had a good personal relationship with the Egyptians and would often go by Sadat's cabin for private discussions or a game of backgammon. These peace talks proved to be something of an epiphany for Weizman, who had been an early member of Begin's Irgun team of Zionist militants, a noted hero of the Six-Day War as director of the early morning strikes that decimated the Arab air forces, and a founder of the conservative Likud political party. He had been a leading "hawk" all his life but was converted during the weeks of negotiations into a strong proponent of reconciliation with the Arabs. [2]

Our celebration of the Camp David Accords was short-lived, as we endured weeks of tedious and frustrating negotiations to implement our commitment to conclude a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt. Six months after Camp David, I decided to go to Cairo and Jerusalem to try to resolve the remaining issues, and we were able to conclude the final terms of a definitive agreement. Although this crucial peace treaty has never been violated, other equally important provisions of our agreement have not been honored since I left office. The Israelis have never granted any appreciable autonomy to the Palestinians, and instead of withdrawing their military and political forces, Israeli leaders have tightened their hold on the occupied territories.

Sadat withstood the condemnation of his fellow Arabs, who imposed severe though ultimately unsuccessful diplomatic, economic, and trade sanctions against Egypt in an attempt to isolate and punish him. Until much later, long after I left public office, neither the Jordanians nor the PLO were willing to participate in subsequent peace talks with Israel. This confirmed the Israelis' fears that their nation's existence would again be threatened as soon as their adversaries could accumulate enough strength to mount a military challenge.

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 con-cern, and in 1980, U.N. Resolution 465 (Appendix 5), 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 Is rael had complied with the Camp David Accords and refrained from colonizing the West Bank, with Arabs accepting Israel within its legal borders.



1. For a more complete day-by-day description of the Camp David negotiations, see Jimmy Carter, Keeping Faith: Memoirs of a President (New York: Bantam, 1982), pp. 319-403; (repr. Fayetteville, AR: University of Arkansas Press, 1995), pp. 326-412.

2. Without my asking him, Ezer Weizman came to America during my re-election campaign in 1980 and visited several cities, publicly urging Jewish leaders to support my candidacy. Although strongly criticized for this unprecedented (and perhaps illegal) foreign involvement, he was undeterred.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:36 pm


To understand present circumstances in the Middle East, it is necessary to take a closer look at the Palestinians and the Israelis. We can begin with a brief general description of the Palestinians, whose future status must be a focal point for progress toward peace.

What is Palestine, and who are the Palestinians? The borders of this contentious area, also called the Land of Canaan or the Holy Land, have never been conclusively defined. The name is an ancient one, derived from the Philistines, who lived along the Mediterranean seacoast and were also known as People of the Sea. The Bible does not portray these people very attractively, because they did not worship God and they competed with the authors and heroes of the scriptures for control over parts of Canaan. Formidable warriors and some of the earliest users of iron weaponry, they were usually able to prevail over their enemies -- even the powerful King David. Roman conquerors, after smashing the Second Jewish Revolt in A.D. 135, set out to obliterate the historic Jewish presence in the land. They changed the name of Jerusalem to Aelia Capitolina, and Judaea became the province of Syria Palaestina, later simply Palaestina. When Christianity became the religion of the Roman Empire, the name of Jerusalem was revived. The name Palaestina, translated into Arabic as Filistin, survived the seventh-century Arab conquest, and the name prevailed even as the borders of the region have fluctuated through the centuries.

A succession of Turks, Kurds, and European Crusaders ruled Palestine until 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 Mediteranean Sea became known as Palestine.

Although Christian and Muslim Arabs had continued to live in this same land since Roman times, they had no real commitment to establish a separate and independent nation. Their concern was with family and tribe and, for the Muslims, the broader world of Islam. Strong ideas of nationhood began to take shape among the Arabs only when they saw increasing numbers of Zionists immigrate to Palestine, buying tracts of land for permanent homes with the goal of establishing their own nation.

In 1947 the United Nations approved a partition plan for Palestine. A Jewish state was to include 55 percent of this territory (Map 2), Jerusalem and Bethlehem were to be internationalized as holy sites, and the remainder of the and was to constitute an Arab state. The Jewish Agency (an official group that represented the Jewish community in Palestine to the British Mandate) and other Zionist representatives approved the plan, but Arab leaders were almost unanimous in their opposition. When Jews declared their independence as a nation, the Arabs attacked militarily but were defeated. The 1949 armistice demarcation lines became the borders of the new nation of Israel and were accepted by Israel and the United States, and recognized officially by the United Nations.

Israelis had taken 77 percent of the disputed land, and the Palestinians were left with two small separate areas, to be known as the West Bank (annexed by Jordan) and Gaza (administered by Egypt). Jews who lived within their new nation took the name Israelis, while Christian and Muslim Arabs in the Holy Land outside of Israel preferred to be known as Palestinians. The Palestinians' own most expansive definition includes "all those, and their descendants, who were residents of the land before 14 May 1948 [when Israel became a state]."

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.

The Palestinians and individual Arab leaders continued their vehement objections to the increasing Israeli encroachment on what they considered to be their lands and rights. However, it was not until the announcement of Israel's plans 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 (PLO) was formally organized. The United Nations estimated that by this time there were 1.3 million Palestinian refugees, with one-fourth in Jordan, about 150,000 each in Lebanon and Syria, and most of the others in West Bank and Gaza refugee camps.

In May 1967, after military clashes between Syria and Israel, Egypt blockaded the Straits of Tiran and ordered the removal of U.N. Emergency Forces stationed along the Israel-Egypt border. Other Arab states put their troops on alert. On June 5, 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. A number of U.N. resolutions were adopted (with U.S. support and Israeli approval), reemphasizing the inadmissibility of acquisition of land by force, calling for Israeli withdrawal from occupied territories, and urging that the more needy and deserving refugees be repatriated to their former homes. [1]

After the 1967 war, most Arab leaders acknowledged the preeminence of the PLO as representing the Palestinians, and a quasi government was formed to deal with matters such as welfare, education, information, health, and security. In 1969 the PLO found a strong leader in Yasir Arafat, a well-educated Palestinian who was the head of al-Fatah, a guerrilla organization. As chairman, Arafat turned much of his attention to raising funds for the care and support of the refugees and inspiring worldwide contributions to their cause. At the same time, the PLO was able to establish diplomatic missions in more than a hundred countries and used its observer status in the United Nations to become one of the most powerful voices in international councils. But persistent PLO attacks on Israelis continued, both within the occupied territories and from the adjacent Arab nations.

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 guerrilla raids brought swift Israeli retaliation, much of which fell on Lebanese civilians, who increasingly resented their troublesome guests. The country became embroiled in civil conflict, and Syrian forces moved in to restore order in June 1976 (the year I was elected president), working out an agreement to limit the PLO militia to prescribed locations and to restrict guerrilla attacks from Southern Lebanon into Israel.


Map 5: Israel 1982-2006

* * *

I have found Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza to be focused on their personal problems under Israeli occupation, but there are a variety of concerns among Palestinian leaders in other countries. Their attitudes and commitments have been shaped by earlier events affecting their own lives, and nowadays few have any direct contact with either the Jews or Arabs who still live in Palestine. They were driven in 1948 and 1967 from what they still consider their homes, and many I have met have claimed the right to use any means at their disposal, including armed struggle, to regain their lost rights.

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 choose 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. As with Israelis, there are many differences among the voices coming from the PLO, and listeners interpret the words to suit their own ends."

When I asked Arafat about the purposes of the PLO, he seemed somewhat taken aback that I needed to ask such a question. He gave me a pamphlet that stated, "The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) is the national liberation movement of the Palestinian people. It is the institutional expression of Palestinian nationhood. ... The PLO is to the Palestinian people what other national liberation movements have been to other nations. It is their means to reassert and reaffirm a denied national identity, to recover a suppressed history, to safeguard a popular heritage, to rebuild demolished institutions, to maintain national unity threatened by physical dispersion, and to struggle for usurped homeland and denied national rights. In brief, the PLO is the Palestinian people's quest to resurrect their national existence." It is interesting how many times "national" appears in this short statement.

The PLO is a loosely associated umbrella organization bound together by common purpose, but it comprises many groups eager to use diverse means to reach their goals. The PLO has been recognized officially by all Arab governments as the "sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, both at home [in Palestine] and in the Diaspora [in other nations]." It plays a strong role in the United Nations, and the many U.N. resolutions supporting Palestinians are considered to be proof of their effectiveness and the rightness of their cause. [2]

The political prestige and influence of the Palestinians seem to increase in inverse proportion to their military defeats. After losing its effort to use Jordan as a base of operations against Israel in 1970-71, the PLO rebounded as the exclusive leader of the Palestinian people, with a strong base of operations in Lebanon. After Camp David and the Israeli-Egyptian peace treaty removed Egypt as a major supporter, the PLO seemed to gain new life as other irate Arabs renewed their commitment to the cause.


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. Although not given the same rights as Muslims, both Christians and Jews who lived in Islamic countries often fared better than non-Christians in Christendom, because the Prophet Muhammad commanded his followers to recognize the common origins of their faith through Abraham, to honor their prophets, and to protect their believers. Muslim leaders favored the Jews over Christians because they saw them as less competitive in expanding their political and religious influence. President Anwar Sadat made these points often while he was negotiating with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and me at Camp David.

Nationalism became a powerful force in nineteenth-century Europe, and it influenced Jews living there to create the Zionist movement. In Western Europe, the unique identity of the Jewish population was threatened by assimilation into Christian and secular society. But almost three-fourths of Jews were living in Eastern Europe, where persecution continued, and it was there that the seeds of Zionism were nourished. Although a majority of Jewish emigrants went to the United States in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, increasing demands were heard for the establishment of a Jewish state -- both to escape oppression and to fulfill an interpretation of biblical prophecies.

Although exact data are not available, it is estimated that in 1880 there were only 30,000 Jews in Palestine, scattered among 600,000 Muslim and Christian Arabs. By 1930 their numbers had grown to more than 150,000.

The Arabs in Palestine fought politically and militarily against these new settlers, but they could agree on little else and dissipated their strength and influence by contention among themselves. The British, who succeeded the ottoman Turks after World War I as rulers of Palestine, attempted to contain the bloody disputes by restricting immigration of Jews to the Holy Land, despite desperate appeals from those who faced increasing threats and racial abuse. And then came the world's awareness of the horrors of the Holocaust, and the need to acknowledge the Zionist movement and an Israeli state.

There had been further waves of Jewish and Gentile immigration into Palestine, as indicated by official British data: the Arab population increased from 760,000 in 1931 to 1,237,000 in 1945, mostly attracted by economic opportunity, while the number of Jews during the same period increased to 608,000, primarily because of persecution in Europe.

British forces withdrew in May 1948 and Israel declared itself an independent state, recognized almost immediately by President Harry Truman on behalf of the United States. At that point Arab troops from Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Transjordan, and Iraq joined Palestinians in attacking Israel, but their separate national forces were not well coordinated and there was some doubt about their specific objectives. The Israelis, in contrast, were cohesive, better armed, well led, and highly motivated as they fought for their lives and their new nation. The war ended in 1949 with armistice agreements signed between Israel and the proximate countries, based on Israel's acceptance of a divided Palestine (77 percent Israeli, 23 percent Arab) and the assumption that Jordan would control what is now known as East Jerusalem and the West Bank. No serious consideration was given by Arab leaders or the international community to establishing a separate Palestinian state while these people's ancient homeland was divided among Jordan, Israel, and Egypt.

The continuing state of war between Israel and its neighbors caused many Jews to flee Syria, Iraq, and other Arab countries to Israel, while Palestinian refugees were scattered more broadly. From all sides, the Palestinians and sometimes troops of their host countries launched spasmodic but persistent attacks against the Israelis, who responded with retaliatory raids. The major defining war was the one in 1967. Israel prevailed after only six days of fighting and occupied lands of Egypt and Syria and the parts of Palestine controlled by Jordan.

Of necessity, Israel has maintained one of the most powerful military forces in the world and has managed to dominate its adversaries, but none of the several wars has resolved any of the basic causes of conflict. According to official Israeli figures, about 22,000 Israelis have died in military confrontations since the nation was founded. During most engagements, the number of Arab casualties has been three or four times greater than Israeli casualties. In addition, large numbers of Christian and Muslim Arabs have either been driven into exile or put under military rule each time Israel has occupied and retained more Arab territory. This has intensified the fear, hatred, and alienation on both sides, and made more difficult the ultimate reconciliation that must come before peace, justice, and security can prevail in the region.

When I travel in the Middle East, one persistent impression is the difference in public involvement in shaping national policy. It is almost fruitless to seek free expressions of opinion from private citizens in Arab countries with more authoritarian leadership, even among business leaders, journalists, and scholars in the universities. Only among Israelis, in a democracy with almost unrestricted freedom of speech, can one hear a wide range of opinion concerning the disputes among themselves and with Palestinians, other Arabs, and often with former presidents and other distinguished guests.

When I made a presidential visit to Israel in March 1979, I was invited to address the Knesset. I was shocked by the degree of freedom permitted the members of the parliament in their exchanges. Although I was able to conclude my remarks with just a few interruptions, it was almost impossible for either Prime Minister Begin or others to speak. Instead of being embarrassed by the constant interruptions and even the physical removal of an especially offensive member from the chamber, Begin seemed to relish the verbal combat and expressed pride in the unrestrained arguments. During an especially vituperative exchange, he leaned over to me and said proudly, "This is democracy in action."

With the exception of sometimes excessive military censorship, this freedom of expression prevails in the news media, and in private discussions in Israel there is a noticeable desire to explore every facet of domestic and international political life. Only among some of the Israeli Arabs is there an obvious reluctance to speak freely.

Although important disagreements exist among opposing political leaders in the Israeli debates, the differences pale when questions of Israel's security are concerned. Then the population closes ranks. A common religion, a shared history, and memories of horrible suffering bind them together in a strength and cohesion unequaled in the Middle East or perhaps anywhere in the world.

The key to the future of Israel will not be found outside the country but within. 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, through democratic processes involving all Israelis who can express their views and elect their leaders. The crucial issues are being debated much more vehemently there than anywhere in the outside world, and a final decision has not been made. The outcome of this debate will shape the future of Israel; it may also determine the prospects for peace in the Middle East -- and perhaps the world.



1. Currently, it is estimated that there are about 9.4 million Palestinians, of whom 3.7 million live in the West Bank and Gaza, 200,000 in East Jerusalem, 1 million in Israel, and 4.5 million in other nations.

2. The Palestine Liberation Organization is the official organization that is recognized by the international community and has observer status in the United Nations. The Palestinian National Authority was formed in 1996, with leaders ejected within the occupied territories, where its jurisdiction exists.
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Postby admin » Sun Oct 25, 2015 10:37 pm


Except for Egypt's contacts with the Palestinians, the Arab nations surrounding Israel do not now play a constructive role in any potential peace process, but their cumulative influence will be vital in helping to consummate an acceptable agreement and in assuring doubtful Israelis that such a peace can be dependable and permanent. It will be helpful to summarize the past involvement and assessments of the leaders of Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia concerning their potential involvement in possible solutions. I have visited these countries as often as possible and arranged for additional meetings with their leaders either in the United States or elsewhere.


Israel has relinquished its control over previously occupied portions of Egypt and almost all of Lebanon but still occupies a region of Syria encompassing the Golan Heights. It is interesting to observe that when "Golan Heights" is entered into Google, one of the initial responses is an invitation to international tourists to come and visit the Israeli settlers who live there. I first visited this high plateau in 1973 and have returned to the general area several times on trips to Israel, Jordan, and Syria. Israel captured the Heights from Syria in the 1967 Six-Day War and in 1981 passed a law that seems to imply its permanent jurisdiction over the area. This is an extreme irritant in Damascus and has caused Syrian leaders to be in the forefront of Arabs who have resisted accommodation with Israel on any other issue.

When I became president, one of my primary goals was to persuade Syrian President Hafez al-Assad to change this negative policy and cooperate with me on a comprehensive peace effort. Little was known about his personal or family life, but former secretary of state Henry Kissinger and others who knew Assad had described him to me as very intelligent, eloquent, and frank in discussing even the most sensitive issues. I invited the Syrian leader to come to see me in Washington, but he replied that he had no desire ever to visit the United States. Despite this firm but polite rebuff, I learned what I could about him and his nation before meeting him.

The failure of the Arab states to destroy the new State of Israel in 1949 had aroused a wave of self-criticism among and between them, and in 1958 their search for a new approach resulted in a union between Syria and Egypt to form the United Arab Republic. After three and a half years it became obvious that Egypt's Gamal Abdel Nasser was dominating the new nation, and dissatisfied Syrian leaders dissolved the union. As minister of defense, Hafez al-Assad and other military leaders blamed politicians for the humiliating defeat in the 1967 war, and Assad subsequently refused to obey his president's orders in 1970 to support Palestinian militants who were fighting in Jordan against King Hussein. When he was condemned for this action, he seized power in a bloodless coup.

Assad had a reputation for ruthlessness toward anyone who resisted his authority and was fervent in protecting his region from outside interference and in expanding Syria's role as a dominant force in Middle East affairs. He was willing to face serious political and military confrontations rather than yield on this principle.

We first met in Switzerland in June 1977, and I found Assad as described -- by far the most eloquent leader in expressing the crux of Arab beliefs regarding Israel and the prospects for peace. He seemed somewhat haughty at first but interested in my efforts to arrange peace negotiations. He insisted that peace talks had to comply with U.N. Resolutions 242 and 338 (Appendices 1 and 2) and must include the Soviets, and he objected strongly to bilateral discussions between Israel and any Arab nation and to the exclusion of the Soviet Union. Syria depended heavily on Soviet aid, but Assad was not a subservient puppet, and I hoped that he might demonstrate his independence by working with me to overcome some of the obstacles we faced. My own plans for peace talks at that time were based on the same U.N. resolutions that he emphasized.

In order to understand the still-prevailing attitudes in the Arab world, even including the more moderate views in Egypt, Jordan, and Lebanon, it is useful to summarize the fervent opinions of Assad, which are rarely heard in the Western world. Rosalynn and I, plus official interpreters, kept careful notes of our conversations.

Assad stressed to me that Israel was admitted to the United Nations in 1949 with the clear proviso that Palestinian refugees would be allowed to return to their homeland or be fully compensated for their lost property. Prior to 1967, he said, Israel was steadily forcing additional Arab inhabitants from their small remaining territory in violation of U.N. agreements that the Israelis had sworn to honor, and he claimed that they initiated the 1967 war in order to take even more Arab land.

He quoted key Israeli leaders who had announced that this was just an intermediate step toward an ultimate "Greater Israel," and every action since that time, he said, had demonstrated their expansionist commitments. Assad was convinced that the Israelis did not want peace and would always frustrate negotiations as they expanded geographically. He emphasized that, as a matter of principle, no Arab leader could ever agree to any extension of Israel's legal borders no matter how great his desire for peace.

I tried to convince Assad that the Israelis were ready for peace if Arab leaders were willing to negotiate with them directly and in good faith. I described the overwhelming commitment of the Israelis to the security of their small nation and their need to be accepted as a permanent entity in the region. Assad pointed out that the West Bank made up only 22 percent of the British Mandate, about a fourth of what the Israelis had obtained, and he condemned their expansion into Syria's Golan Heights.

"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?"

He added, almost as an afterthought, "We are all the time talking about religion. If Jerusalem is taken from us, we Muslims would be soulless. It is inconceivable that we should be clamoring for a return to the 1967 borders and exclude only Jerusalem."

"Would it make it any easier if we make other exclusions as well?" I asked.

He laughed along with our advisers around the conference table. "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," he replied.

I answered that other Christians and I were deeply committed to Jerusalem and hoped that all believers would have unimpeded access to the holy shrines and the right to worship there without restraint. Before we adjourned our meet-ing, Assad promised to make some positive statements about he peace effort, adding that a year or two earlier it would have meant political suicide in Syria to talk about peace with the Israelis.

I asked him why Syria had never recognized Lebanon as a separate and independent nation and seemed to consider it part of Syria. Assad disavowed any designs on his western neighbor, insisting that he and his people recognized Lebanon's independence without equivocation. He claimed to prefer a free and independent Lebanon and vowed to withdraw his troops "when requested to do so by the Arab League and the Lebanese government," but it seemed obvious that he never expected this request to be made.

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. He argued that, while Israel claimed the right to its statehood in Palestine in 1948 because it was only recreating a nation demolished in ancient times, it rejected the recognition of a Palestinian state in the same area -- the very place that generations of Palestinians, either Christian or Muslim, have inhabited continuously for thousands of years. Furthermore, no other nation on earth, he added, including the United States, recognizes Israel's present claims for lands it has confiscated since 1949.

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 as inferiors who are not worthy of basic human rights, often branding them as terrorists if they resist Israel's encroachments. He scoffed at Israel's claim to be a true democracy, maintaining that its political and social equality are only for Jews.

Concerning the search for peace, Assad argued that to ensure security for themselves, Israelis create excuses to expand, to occupy new lands, and to build permanent military outposts that are developed into civilian settlements. Obviously with the Golan Heights in mind, he said that they then create circumstances to defend the new settlements by further expansion, strengthened military forces, and the displacement of the Arab inhabitants.

The loss of Arab life, he claimed, is relatively insignificant to the Israelis and their American backers, who associate all Palestinians with terrorism in an attempt to justify this racist attitude. The explanation for such a joint policy is a United States-Israeli ambition to dominate the Middle East at the expense of its native people, who want only freedom and the right to live peaceably in their own homes. Assad explained that by refusing to discuss peace directly with the Palestinians, the United States and Israel block negotiations, except when they might single out one Arab group at a time and induce it by threats or economic blandishments to work with Israel and the United States alone.

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 honoring all U.N. 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 internationally recognized borders of others; and
• By offering to withdraw Syria's forces from Lebanon when requested to do so by the Lebanese government.

Although Assad gave no indication of being willing to abandon any of his long-term objectives, I came away from our first meeting convinced that he might be sufficiently independent and flexible to modify his political tactics to accommodate changing times and circumstances. Even in his bitterness toward Israel he retained a certain wry humor about their conflicting views, seeming to derive patience from a belief that history, as during the Crusades, would be repeated in an ultimate Arab victory.

During subsequent trips to Syria, I spent hours debating with Assad and listening to his analyses of events in the Middle East. He had been furious when Sadat first told him of his planned visit to Jerusalem, and he never forgave him for his "betrayal" of the Arab cause. He saw Sadat as having been seduced by Israel into a unilateral act that would give Egypt back its lands at the expense of other Arabs. The Syrians did everything possible to prevent direct talks between Israel and Egypt or any other of its neighbors and then led an effort to isolate and boycott Egypt. Even in death Sadat was not forgiven. The streets of Damascus were filled with cheering throngs when his assassination was announced.

Assad blamed Sadat and the peace treaty with Israel for subsequent attacks on Lebanon. He maintained that the Israelis would not have taken the risk of concerted retaliation against the PLO if Egypt had been free to join forces with the other Arabs. We had heated exchanges. I would remind Assad that Egypt had its land back and its people were living in peace. I quoted passages from the Camp David Accords to prove that the framework mandated withdrawal by Israel from occupied territory, Palestinian self-determination, and a peaceful resolution of the outstanding differences between Israel and its other Arab neighbors.

After one long meeting, Assad stood in his office before a large painting depicting the battle of Hittin in 1187. In that historic engagement, the Muslim leader Saladin defeated the Christian invaders, and the Crusaders' Kingdom of Jerusalem fell. The Arabs were victorious over the West. As Assad discussed the Crusades and the other struggles for the Holy Land, he seemed to speak like a modern Saladin -- as though it was his obligation to rid the region of foreign presence while preserving Damascus as the focal point for modern Arab unity.


When I met with Hafez al-Assad for the last time in 1999, at the funeral of King Hussein, he had had mixed successes. Israeli troops were almost completely out of Lebanon, but Jordan and Israel had concluded a peace treaty five years earlier. He was very frail, with only a year to live -- not long enough to see his son, President Bashar al-Assad, remove all Syrian troops from Lebanon in 2005.

I made a visit to the Middle East early in 2005 and planned to visit the young Syrian president in Damascus. As usual, I notified the White House well in advance of my itinerary and immediately received a call from the national security advisor, who informed me that I would not receive approval for this portion of my trip. Because of differences with Syria concerning U.S. policy in Iraq, a decision had been made to withdraw our ambassador and to isolate President Assad by prohibiting visits by prominent Americans. I tried to explain that I had known Bashar since he was a university student and that I would be glad to use my influence to resolve any outstanding problems, as I had done with his father. In a somewhat heated conversation, I also expressed my view that refusing to communicate with leaders with whom we disagreed was counterproductive. Reluctantly, I complied with the directive. Later, I observed that President Assad was denied a visa to attend a U.N. General Assembly summit meeting in New York.

Despite this effort to embarrass and weaken Bashar al-Assad, he has survived for six years in one of the most difficult political posts in the region. It is quite likely that he has been pushed into stronger alliances with anti-American forces in Iraq, Iran, and Lebanon. When an international peace effort is launched to end the current conflict between Israel and Lebanon, Syria may once again play a major role.


"When Rosalynn and I first saw Jordan in the spring of 1973, we were looking through barbed wire from the West Bank at the green fields across the Jordan River. As guests of Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir, we were welcomed to the crossing at the Allen by Bridge, where we observed a large and uninterrupted stream of people going back and forth between the two countries. Border inspections were perfunctory, and there was almost a carnival air about the busy scene.

In 1983, after I had been president, we went back to the Allen by Bridge. Israeli uniforms were everywhere, and only a trickle of people was crossing the border. Lines extended for hundreds of yards, an uneven row of vehicles and camp-sites that looked as if some of the people and their produce had been waiting for days. There was a sense of tension and animosity in both directions.

This time we were traveling from Jerusalem to Amman, following weeks of skirmishing by my staff with U.S. diplomatic officials in both countries. Finally, I became the first person to make the crossing using just one passport, because if documents were stamped first in either Israel or an Arab country, they would not be honored by the other. When we reached the center of the bridge, there was no exchange of pleasantries between the stone-faced officials of the two countries.

Rosalynn and I were driven to the royal compound, on a hill near the old city. From our guesthouse we could look across a deep ravine at the bustling streets of a residential area where housing, mostly for Palestinian refugees, had been built in recent years. Some of our escort remembered that King Hussein's grandfather, King Abdullah ibn Hussein, enjoyed practicing long-range marksmanship at what were then unoccupied hills across the valley.

A direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, 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.

Following the Arab-Israeli war of 1948, King Abdullah claimed the land on the west bank that was not part of Israel, including the old walled city of East Jerusalem, with its numerous holy shrines. The Palestinians accepted Jordan's decision, and this action was confirmed by a 1949 armistice between Abdull ah and the Israelis. Transjordan became the Kingdom of Jordan and struggled to absorb almost 400,000 refugees who had lost their homes in what became the new nation of Israel. Only 6 percent of Jordan's land area was in the West Bank, but nearly two-thirds of the population and a large portion of its natural and financial resources were now Palestinian.

About a third of the Palestinians in Jordan were in camps; the others lived wherever they could find temporary shelter -- in churches, mosques, tents, caves, shacks, and public buildings. Some refused to accept permanent housing, claiming that their only home was in Palestine. Many of the displaced persons remained unemployed and subsisted on food allocations from United Nations relief agencies. Even so, life in the West Bank had been relatively prosperous, so the average Palestinian was better educated, better fed, and more active politically than his East Bank neighbor. When the official merger of the West Bank with Jordan was approved by the Jordanian parliament in April 1950, all Palestinians were offered citizenship. Many participated in Jordan's political affairs, but they still retained their identity as Palestinians.

Although there were strong objections among the Arabs to acceptance of the State of Israel, King Abdullah was reported to be meeting secretly with the Israelis. He was assassinated in July 1951 by a Palestinian extremist on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem in the presence of his grandson Hussein ibn Talal, and a little more than two years later the young man became king when he reached the age of eighteen. By this time, the Palestinians had been allotted half the parliamentary seats and the same portion of top positions in the government. The young king continued to press for Jordanian independence, and in 1956 he ordered British officials and military personnel to leave Jordan. It was to be the most popular decision of his reign.

King Hussein's greatest political disaster came in the Six-Day War of 1967, when Israeli troops occupied East Jerusalem and the entire West Bank. Jordan lost almost half its population, a major source of tourist income from the holy sites of Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and large areas of productive land. At the same time, almost 250,000 additional refugees from the West Bank settled in Jordan on the eastern side of the river.

Despite Hussein's efforts to control them, during the late 1960s the increasingly powerful Palestinians used some of the refugee camps as commando bases for their almost constant attacks on Israel. Many of these militants welcomed retaliatory raids on Jordan because one of their objectives was to weaken Hussein and replace the monarchy with a republic like that of Nasser's Egypt. By September 1970 a full-scale civil war was raging in Jordan between Hussein's armed forces and the guerrilla bands. It was at that time that Syrian Defense Minister Assad refused to attack Jordan's forces and Hussein was able to prevail. The Syrians withdrew, many Palestinians fled to Lebanon, and order was restored. Ad mired for his honesty and benevolence, Hussein was able to attract strong financial support from the international community, much of which was channeled to the Palestinians.

Having ascended to the throne in 1953, Hussein had become the senior national ruler on earth when we visited him, serving in the thirtieth year of his reign. His fellow world leaders respected his opinions because they were always moderate and carefully considered. Hussein had much more personal strength and influence than his weak kingdom permitted him to exhibit. He had condemned Sadat after the peace treaty between Egypt and Israel, but I was hoping he would renew diplomatic relations with Egypt and become reconciled with the Palestinians.

King Hussein made it clear that he considered the persistent unrest, instability, and tension in the region a threat to his kingdom, especially if the Palestinians could not achieve lives of peace and dignity. He was fearful that new waves of refugees might pour into Jordan because of the Israeli effort to absorb the occupied areas. He considered the inability of Palestinians to express their legitimate rights the basic cause of political ills that plagued the area.

Like Assad, the king took pride in having supported the major international proposals designed to end conflict in the region. He and almost all other Arab leaders persistently equate the plight of the Palestinians with that of the Jews following World War II -- without national or individual rights, forced from their homeland, still suffering from the oppression of a military power after more than a generation. In carefully orchestrated presentations to visitors, 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. Hussein emphasized to us that about 12,000 Palestinians a year were being induced or forced to leave their ancestral homes and move east, either into Jordan or to join the many wandering refugees in other countries.

Acknowledging that the Israeli-Egyptian treaty gave a fresh momentum to the peace process, the Jordanians maintained that the advantages were offset by the neutralization of Egypt and by Israel's increasingly domineering role in the occupied territories. The Jordanians informed me that Ronald Reagan, when he was president, had given them direct and unequivocal assurances that Israeli settlement activity would be frozen as a condition of the commencement of any expanded peace talks. They added that the Israelis rejected any political decision to cease settlement activity.

The king and his brother Crown Prince Hassan could quote the latest Israeli figures on how much Palestinian family land was being confiscated by Israel's military authorities, and they 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. They showed me statistics to prove that water resources from the upper Jordan River valley were being channeled almost exclusively to Israelis and that Arabs were even prohibited from digging a new well or deepening an old one dried up by adjacent wells being dug by Jewish settlers. They condemned Israel's policy of forbidding the delivery of foreign aid through Amman to the West Bank and Gaza for such projects as education, housing, and agriculture.

We had already heard most of these complaints from those living in the West Bank and Gaza, but now we were presented with color photographs, bar graphs, pages of statistics, and official documents. It was clear that Jordan's royal family was making the same presentation to other visitors and to audiences in international forums. Jordan's leaders were convinced that Israel's move "to colonize and eventually to annex" substantial portions of the occupied territories not only would change the basic character of Israel but would jeopardize her peace treaty with Egypt and friendly relations with all other neighbors. This would end all viable attempts to reach a peaceful settlement of Arab Israeli differences and lead eventually to another broader and more deadly holy war, with Muslim forces committed through their religious beliefs to restore the rights of their Arab brothers who live west of the Jordan River or who claim the right to live there.

Even without such a conflict, many Jordanians feel that a failure to resolve the Palestinian issue may lead to the destruction of their own nation, and they listen with anger and concern to some extreme Israeli spokesmen who say, "Jordan is Palestine." This threat is real and vital to Jordan's leaders. Following the death of King Hussein in 1999, his son Abdullah II assumed the throne, and he has seemed to continue his father's attitude of cautious idealism. Despite limits on his influence, his personal integrity and commitment to Middle East peace are acknowledged.


Our family has always enjoyed visiting Egypt to cruise on the Nile, travel through the countryside, examine the ancient sites, and meet with political leaders. We still receive the warmest of welcomes, but it has not been the same for us since Sadat. Of almost a hundred heads of state with whom I met while president, he was my favorite and my closest personal friend. In fact, our wives and two other generations of our families also forged close relationships. We made a special trip to Sadat's home village after his death, to repay a visit he had made to our home in Plains.

One morning in the early 1980s, as we were approaching the entrance to the tomb of Tutankhamen, a group of Israelis saw me and began to sing "Hayveynu Shalom Aleichem" -- "Peace Be with You." We stopped to listen, and I noticed that my eyes were not the only ones that glistened. I went over to talk to them, and they thanked me "for giving us the opportunity to visit our new friends in Egypt." I learned that 50,000 Palestinians from the occupied territories were crossing the border from Gaza into Egypt without incident, in addition to 33,000 Israeli tourists coming to Cairo and Alexandria each year. These were comparatively halcyon days, and the Israeli tourists and Egyptians we met in their homes and marketplaces were pleased and thankful for what they thought would be an era of peace and friendship.

On one trip around Egypt, in a private plane, I received permission to depart from the normal flight paths, and we landed near Mount Sinai, where the Bible describes the Ten Commandments being delivered to Moses. We hiked up to St. Catherine's Monastery, which has huddled against the north face of the rugged mountain for more than 1,450 years -- the oldest continuously occupied Christian monastery on earth. Sadat saw this "Mountain of God" as a symbol of peace and wanted a shrine for all three religions to be built there. His dream was never realized.

During many conversations with Sadat, I often expressed apprehension about Egypt's growing isolation from the other Arab nations, but he would scoff at my concern. He was certain that his bold initiative represented his own people's aspirations for peace, and he was equally convinced that most of Israel's other Arab neighbors had the same ambition, at least among the people themselves. He strongly and publicly condemned the leaders of those nations for their short- sighted timidity when they failed to follow his example.

Sadat proved to be right about the fruitlessness of attempts to punish Egypt. The other Arabs could not long exclude or ignore Egypt, with its formidable armed forces, central location, ancient cultural heritage, heterogeneous population of 47 million, large external workforce, and the willingness of its leaders to explore bold new concepts. A Tel Aviv University professor told me that the Arabs' attitude toward Egypt during their attempted boycott reminded him of an old headline in the London Times, "Fog in Channel. Europe Isolated."

There were repeated calls for the death of Sadat, but the Egyptian leader was not disturbed and calmly proceeded to pursue the goal of peace. After receiving the Nobel Peace Prize and even being honored in America as Time magazine's Man of the Year, he was assassinated on October 6, 1981. President Hosni Mubarak has been careful to honor the peace agreements of his predecessor but has concentrated more on the internal political and economic affairs of his country while working with other leaders to restore Egypt's role as a leading Arab nation.

When pressed to continue dealing favorably with their neighbor, many Egyptians ask, "Which Israel?" Increasingly concerned, they now describe the territories as being filled with "small new ghettos of Israelis armed and looking at the Arabs around them as enemies," and they see the extensive settlements as aggravating and perpetuating the hatred that Sadat believed would end with his commitment to peace. For President Mubarak and other Egyptian leaders, the vital peace treaty is always considered to be just one part of the overall Camp David agreement, with Egypt pledged to respect the entire package as long as Israel can be expected to honor the agreements concerning Palestinian rights, the withdrawal of military and political forces from the West Bank, and other specific terms of the Camp David Accords.

A final decision by Israeli leaders to retain the occupied land and a nullification of the Israeli-Egyptian Peace Treaty of 1979 would be a fatal blow to sustained peace in the region. This would bring Middle Eastern affairs back full circle -- to an isolated Israel surrounded by united and implacable Arab foes, waiting patiently as they prepare someday for another opportunity to strike a fatal blow.


Until the most recent outbreak of violence between Lebanon and Israel, circumstances in Lebanon had been a minor factor in the ongoing dispute between Israelis and Palestinians, but it is useful to review previous events in order to understand the causes of conflict and the potential for peace.

Lebanon has long had to accommodate religious and political divisions, with a Christian majority at the time of its formation under French control at the end of World War I and a growing Muslim influence. The mountainous terrain permitted the different religious communities to live in relative isolation and to preserve their identity and autonomy through the centuries, even while ruled by the Ottoman Empire. A constitution was evolved in 1926 under the French mandate that provided for the president to be chosen by a two-thirds vote of the National Assembly and by unwritten custom to be a Maronite Christian, with the prime minister a Sunni Muslim and the speaker of the parliament a Shia Muslim. Other government posts were divided among the Druze, Greek Orthodox, and Greek Catholics. Despite horrendous wars, political upheavals, and a present population with a growing Muslim majority, these general "confessional" political arrangements have prevailed.

Loyalty to family and religious groups transcends any commitment to national unity, and memories of injustice and past conflicts are nurtured by the wronged parties for long periods of time and have precipitated acts of retaliation and revenge. Political and religious factions have established independent militias, who have frequently depended upon foreign powers to intercede on their behalf. The Muslim Turks have favored the Druze, the French came in to protect the Maronite Christians, the Russians support the Russian Orthodox, the Syrians have on different occasions been aligned with various sides, and the Israelis and Maronites have worked closely as military allies. Members of the more militant Hezbollah have strong ties to both Iran and Syria. Few peoples in modern times have suffered as much as the Lebanese at the hands of such a diversity of foreign powers.

It was almost impossible for me to remember the different alignments in Lebanon while I was president, so I finally directed the CIA to include in weekly briefings a summary description of the political and religious organizations, their current leaders, the size and effectiveness of each militia, any foreign connections, and the latest changes in their status. Only then could I understand the news reports from the troubled country.

Lebanon's leaders have long claimed a neutral foreign policy between East and West and between Israel and Syria. They have not always succeeded, but at least the collective Lebanese government has never mounted a threat to any of its neighbors.

A civil war erupted in 1975, with Christian forces fighting against Palestinians and other Muslims as they contended for economic and political advantage. Syrian President Assad dispatched troops into the war-torn country to restore order. This move was approved by Lebanese government officials representing all major factions, and also by Israel, the United States, and later the Arab League. Although the two countries were officially independent, Syrian leaders considered them to be "one country and one people." When I examined Syrian maps during my visits to Damascus, there was no international boundary line, and the usual bilateral diplomatic customs were not even observed between the two governments. Assad resented any implication that his troops were "invaders" or even "foreign forces" and insisted to me that he and his troops considered their presence in Lebanon to be temporary.

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. [1]

Israel's bombing of Lebanese cities caused high civilian casualties and aroused intense opposition, even within Israel. Israel's Maronite Christian ally Bashir Gemayel was elected president of Lebanon, and 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. Then, in quick succession, Western peacekeeping forces left Beirut considering the crisis to be resolved, President Gemayel was assassinated, and Israeli military forces returned to the city and its suburbs. A few days later, more than a thousand non-combatant Palestinian and Lebanese Muslims were slain in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps controlled by Israel's allies, for which Israeli Defense Minister Ariel Sharon was held accountable. American, British, French, and Italian troops moved back into Beirut.

The Israeli forces around Beirut were under almost constant attack from Lebanese who were supported by Syria, and casualties were high. In September 1983 the Israelis again withdrew to Southern Lebanon with one of their goals accomplished: the PLO troops in Beirut and Southern Lebanon had been forced out of the area, leaving Israel's northern border more secure. American marines deployed around the Beirut airport came under increasing fire from the Lebanese militia in the surrounding hills, and U.S. forces responded with naval guns from battleships and aerial bombing from aircraft carriers offshore.

It was at this time that I made one of my visits to Lebanon, to meet with President Amin Gemayel, successor to his brother Bashir. We sat in a reception room on the top floor of the presidential palace, which had recently been bombed, and could hear and sometimes feel the tremors of distant explosions. My host did not exhibit any concern, and I pretended also to be calm. When I asked about the location of the battle, we walked out on a balcony and saw that it was concentrated in the airport area several miles away. Gemayel's main hope was that some kind of internationally monitored cease-fire might be implemented. I asked him about Assad's claim that he would withdraw Syrian troops if requested, and his quiet response was "That is the way I understand it." After a slight hesitation, he added that they would need some time to prepare for such a change.

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 hard core 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 15 seats. In the 2005 election, these two groups won 80 percent of the votes cast in Southern Lebanon.

In Apri1 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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. All Lebanese groups would now have to turn to Syria.

With American approval, Israel maintained a strong military presence in Southern Lebanon in an apparently fruitless attempt to destroy the military capability of Hezbollah. In April 1996 Israel attacked a well-known United Nations outpost at Qana, which was housing a group of 800 Lebanese who had taken cover there. More than 100 civilians were killed, and an international outcry about Lebanese casualties plus the attrition of its own military forces were major factors in Israel's decision in May 2000 to withdraw almost completely from Lebanon after eighteen years of occupation, retaining its presence only in Shebaa Farms.

Although the Lebanese have not been strong enough to defend themselves, their nation has proven resilient. Their dream has been to become something like a Switzerland in the Middle East, neither involved in conflict nor a staging area for other combatants, and benefiting from good relations with all other nations. Their government's primary complaint is that Israel holds a number of Lebanese prisoners and still occupies an area near the borders of Israel, Lebanon, and Syria known as Shebaa Farms, which Lebanon claims as its territory. Israel insists it is part of Syria, which would justify their occupation.

This is a key issue and needs to be understood. Since 1924, Shebaa Farms had been treated as Lebanese territory, but Syria seized the area in the 1950s and retained control until Israel occupied the Farms -- along with the Golan Heights -- in 1967. The inhabitants and properties were Lebanese, and Lebanon has never accepted Syria's control of the Farms. Although Syria has claimed the area in the past, Syrian officials now state that it is part of Lebanon. This position supports the Arab claim that Israel still occupies Lebanese territory.

The withdrawal of all other foreign troops increased international pressure for the same action by Syria, and in 2004 the U.N. Security Council passed Resolution 1559 supporting this goal and calling for Hezbollah and other militant groups to disarm. This encouraged domestic pressures against Syria, which may have precipitated the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, a Sunni Muslim, and twenty others in February 2005. Although Syria denied responsibility for the crime, Hariri was known to be a strong critic of Syrian decisions concerning the Lebanese government. Massive demonstrations followed, and Syria withdrew the remainder of its military forces. The slain prime minister's son Saad was elected to head the government. To the relief of many, Lebanon was no longer on center stage, and the light of world attention could be focused elsewhere in the Middle East. These dreams were to be shattered in July 2006, as will be described in Chapter 16.


Although not contiguous to Israel, Saudi Arabia will play an important role in any permanent peace agreement in the region. Because it is a rich nation with major oil reserves, keeper of the Muslim holy places, with diplomatic ties to almost all other nations and playing a preeminent role in the Arab League, its stabilizing influence has always been crucial. As president I had strong but private encouragement from Saudi leaders for my peace initiatives, even when their public statements were quite different.

Saudi Arabia is a strange country to many Westerners, reminiscent of the Arabian Nights, geographically isolated, ruled by hundreds of princes who are floating in wealth, and having enjoyed a close political relationship with the United States since the time of King Abdul Aziz and President Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Although we found the major cities very interesting, Rosalynn and I had our most informative visit with King Fahd ibn Abd in 1983 while he was having one of the customary royal sessions with his subjects, this time in a remote desert area about two hundred kilometers north of Riyadh. In a tent city erected for this purpose, chieftains had assembled to meet with their monarch, to report on their tribal affairs and to request goods and services for their people. While I was with the men, Rosalynn was whisked off to visit Saudi women, who were in a different camp entirely, over the sand dunes and out of sight. I had known Fahd for several years and, while president, had consulted with in him in both Washington and Saudi Arabia. Then he had been a most powerful crown prince, with many international duties assigned to him by his half brother King Khalid.

The monarchs maintained political stability within the kingdom and greatly enhanced their leadership role by minimizing internal differences through close consultation, by carefully dispensing part of the nation's oil income, and by capitalizing on their preeminence as custodians of the holy places of Islam. They balanced their absolute authority with an impressive closeness to their subjects. King Khalid told me on my first visit to Saudi Arabia that each day he opened his doors to many dozens of men who wished to see him, and each week women of the families were permitted to bring their problems and requests directly to him. He traveled widely through the desert kingdom with a fleet of tractor-trailers carrying a complete mobile hospital and personally welcomed those who needed medical treatment. When I expressed concern about the time-consuming extent of these administrative chores, he replied that the kingdom could not survive if its leaders abandoned this commitment of personal service to their people.

A preeminent desire of Saudis is stability in the region. One of their prime commitments is to maintain a sense of brotherhood among Arabs, particularly with the Palestinians, whom they consider to be severely victimized, and they look upon the Palestinian Israeli conflict as one of the most serious obstacles to permanent peace in the region. There is no doubt that Saudi leaders share Arab feelings of resentment toward the encroachment of Israel on land that was previously occupied and ruled by their Muslim brothers, but Saudi kings have expressed their support for resolving the ongoing conflict through peaceful negotiations if the results will not jeopardize the fundamental rights of the Palestinians. The Saudis consider Crown Prince (now King) Abdullah's proposal adopted by the Arab League in March 2002 (Appendix 6) to be quite compatible with the International Quartet's Roadmap for Peace, [2] recognizing Israel within its pre-1967 borders.

Many of us fail to recognize that, with all their wealth and prestige, the Saudis' caution in dealing with controversial issues is justified. They have a relatively small native population, their military power is limited, and they are surrounded by potentially dangerous neighbors. Their leadership is predicated on compromise and the forging of a consensus among independent and volatile leaders in a divided Arab world. I might add that the Saudis and many others greatly overestimate the influence of the United States, and they never understand why we cannot "deliver" our own friends in the Middle East when it suits our purposes.

The leaders of Saudi Arabia can be a crucial and beneficial force in the Middle East whenever their influence might make the difference in bringing peace and stability to the region as an alternative to war and continuing political turmoil. At least among American political leaders, there has been a willingness to overlook in Saudi Arabia serious human rights violations that we would condemn in other nations.



1. Current events show that history tends to repeat itself.

2. The Quartet includes the United States, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union and has published a plan for resolving the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians.
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Chapter 6: THE REAGAN YEARS, 1981-89

In addition to my involvement while president, I observed very carefully the developments in the Middle East during the following years and visited the region several times to consult with political leaders, academics, and private citizens. These activities were part of the programs of The Carter Center, an organization that my wife, Rosalynn, and I founded to address issues that we considered to be important to our own country and to others. Our center now has projects in sixty-five nations, including thirty-five in Africa, dealing with health, agriculture, the enhancement of democracy, and the promotion of peace.

In the Holy Land, I found that the situation was changing dramatically. Within a few months after I left the White House, the Israelis launched an air strike that destroyed an Iraqi nuclear reactor, announced the "annexation" of the Golan Heights, and escalated their efforts to build Israeli settlements throughout the West Bank and Gaza. All these acts were widely condemned in the Arab world, and the Israeli people were divided over the wisdom of this militant policy.

The Israelis invaded Lebanon in 1982, and within a year the PLO and its leaders had been forced to leave the country. For the next decade, the members of the organization were dispersed in many Arab nations, while they continued to build diplomatic ties throughout the world and again emerged as the sole remaining political symbol for Palestinian self-determination.

There was little effort by the United States to promote an overall peace agreement, but President Reagan, who wanted to make a clear declaration of his policy in the Middle East, called to ask if I would work with his assistants on it. His statement would include his complete support for the implementation of the Camp David Accords, and I was pleased to assist with the following portion of the speech:

We base our approach squarely on the principle that the Arab Israeli conflict should be resolved through negotiations involving an exchange of territory for peace. This exchange is enshrined in United Nations Security Council Resolution 242, which is, in turn, incorporated in all its parts in the Camp David agreements. U.N. Resolution 242 remains wholly valid as the foundation stone of America's Middle East peace effort.

It is the United States' position that -- in return for peace -- the withdrawal provision of Resolution 242 applies to all fronts, including the West Bank and Gaza.

President Reagan knew that the Middle East could be stable only if Israel could have lasting peace with her neighbors and that this would not be possible if the occupied territories were retained and colonized.

Our team at The Carter Center continued to monitor the interrelated events in the Middle East, always with the goal of keeping alive the faltering peace process. Two events discouraged any strong and sustained Middle East peace efforts by the United States. In 1986, leaders in Washington were embarrassed when it was disclosed that Israeli intermediaries had assisted the United States in exchanging weapons to Iran for the release of U.S. hostages being held in Lebanon, with proceeds from the arms sales used to support the Contra war in Nicaragua. And late in 1987 the Likud settlement policy in the occupied territories increased confrontations between Jews and Arabs, and harsher treatment of dissidents led to an outbreak of organized civil violence. Known as the intifada, this sustained, independent, and forceful action of young Palestinians surprised both the Israelis and the PLO.

My first visit to Israel after leaving the White House illustrates how circumstances and attitudes had changed since I went there as governor ten years earlier and as president in the late 1970s. On arriving in Jerusalem in the spring of 1983, Rosalynn and I paid our third visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial, where we heard expressions of gratitude that the negotiations at Camp David had led to peace with Egypt. A few minutes later I was on my way to Prime Minister Begin's office in Israel's parliament building.

As a private citizen, I expected that my personal relationship with Israeli leaders and especially with Prime Minister Begin would be different. Although his nation and mine shared many beliefs and political goals, he and I had frequently been at odds across the negotiating table. It was no secret that Begin and I had strong public disagreements concerning the interpretation of the Camp David Accords and Israel's recent invasion of Lebanon. Unfortunately, these disputes had resulted in some personal differences as well.

Now we were together again, and as had always been my custom, I expressed myself with frankness on some of the more controversial issues. I first congratulated Begin on the manner in which he had honored the difficult terms of the peace treaty concerning the withdrawal of Israeli forces and dismantling of settlements in Egypt's Sinai. Then, as he sat without looking at me, I explained again why we believed he had not honored a commitment made during the peace negotiations to withdraw Israeli forces and to refrain from building new Israeli settlements in the West Bank. I described my disappointment that he had not been willing to grant the Palestinians any appreciable degree of independence or responsibility in the occupied territories, and I urged him to make it plain to the Egyptians and Jordanians that Israel would observe the basic elements of U.N. Resolution 242 -- crucial commitments that he and I had made to our people.

I paused, expecting the prime minister to give his usual strong explanation of Israeli policy. He responded with just a few words in a surprisingly perfunctory manner and made it plain that our conversation should be concluded. I did not know whether I had aggravated him more than usual, whether he wanted to reserve his arguments for current American officials, or whether he was preoccupied. Most likely, it was a combination of all three reasons.

We had been sitting in a small, sparsely adorned room on the lower level of the Knesset building. The exchanges had been cool, distant, and nonproductive. As I left, I noticed that the adjacent room was large, brightly lighted, attractive, and vacant. Ironically, the number on the door was 242.

Rosalynn and I spent several days in Israel and the occupied territories, meeting with leaders and private citizens. It was very different from the place we had first come to know ten years earlier. The sense of unanimity among Jewish citizens and the relaxed confidence of 1973 were gone. Despite their military triumph in Lebanon, many Israelis were deeply concerned that the flame of victory had turned to ashes. Military superiority that was crucial for the defense of the nation was not adequate for Israel to subdue its neighbors. The successes had been very costly in both financial and human terms, and after each war and a brief interlude of peace, both sides had plunged into a new round of violence.

Men and women in uniform were now seen everywhere, and the tension between different kinds of people was obvious. The former stream of visitors from Jordan had dried to a trickle, and visits from Egypt were almost nonexistent despite the peace treaty that had established open borders and free trade. Even among the most optimistic public officials, there seemed to be little hope for any permanent agreement that could bring peace and stability. In fact, with some justification, the Israelis were increasingly skeptical about the attitudes of all foreign governments. There were sharp differences between the policies of the United States and Israel, as demonstrated vividly by Israel's peremptory rejection of peace proposals made by Secretary of State George Shultz and President Reagan's recent speech endorsing our nation's undeviating Middle East policy that presumed Israel's withdrawal from occupied territories.

Speaking officially for the Likud coalition, for instance, Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir expressed his belief that the root of the Middle East conflict had nothing to do with Israel and that a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict was not likely to affect regional stability. He minimized the importance of the Palestinian problem and considered Jews to be the natural rulers of Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza, with a right and obligation to continue populating the area. The proper homeland for Palestinian Arabs was to be found in Jordan, and the pre-1967 borders of Israel were of no consequence. Ariel Sharon went further, having called for the overthrow of King Hussein in favor of a Palestinian regime in Jordan, even if headed by Yasir Arafat. He added that the east bank of the Jordan is "ours but not in our hands, just as East Jerusalem had been until the Six-Day War."

Although they continued to state officially that any peace talks should take place within the Camp David framework, most members of Begin's ruling Likud Party never approved the concessions he had made during the intense negotiations with President Sadat and me. Both Israel and Egypt had honored the terms of the peace treaty involving the Sinai, but the original substance of the Accords relating to the other occupied territories had been abandoned or modified in vital ways. Former Israeli foreign minister Abba Eban remarked, "Unfortunately, it is clear that Israeli governmental policy is so distant from Camp David that when Likud spokesmen invoke the agreement, they are rather like Casanova invoking the Seventh Commandment."

My primary contact in Israel was Ezer Weizman, and we enjoyed frequent telephone conversations and personal visits. When we visited their beautiful home overlooking the bay in the ancient Roman city of Caesarea Maritima, Ezer and his wife, Reuma, invited a few of their neighbors to meet us, partially to demonstrate how far some of the highly educated and relatively wealthy Israelis had deliberately removed themselves from the situation involving Palestinians in the West Bank. He had been expelled from the Likud Party because of his unrestrained condemnation of the party's violations of the peace accords that he had helped to negotiate and was contemplating the formation of a new party to be led by him, Moshe Dayan, and others who had participated with us at Camp David. Remarkably outspoken and independent of any political restraints, Weizman aroused strong animosities and admiration, and in 1993 he was elected president of Israel. Until his death, he remained my closest personal friend in the Holy Land and an invaluable source of information and advice.

In addition to an estimated hundred thousand people who had died in the various wars between Israel and her neighbors, large numbers of Christian and Muslim Arabs were either displaced from their homes or put under military rule as more and more of their territory was occupied and retained. This forced relocation intensified the fear, hatred, and alienation on both sides and made more difficult any reconciliation. None of the wars had resolved either of the two basic causes of continuing conflict: land and Palestinian rights.

While on this visit to Jerusalem, I also had a personal taste of how the Israeli-Palestinian relationships had changed since my earlier tours. As usual, I got up quite early and began a jog around the old city, in East Jerusalem and beyond -- an intriguing route of ancient sites and steep hills. I was accompanied by an American Secret Service agent and two young Israeli soldiers, who insisted on leading the way. We proceeded from our hotel to the Jaffa Gate, then turned north around the outside of the ancient walls. As we were running eastward alongside the Jericho road, I saw a group of elderly Arab men sitting by the curb, reading their newspapers. The sidewalk was almost empty and wide enough for us to pass easily, but one of the soldiers cut to the right and knocked all of the newspapers back into the faces of the startled readers. Some of the papers fluttered to the ground. I stopped to apologize to the old men, but they could not understand me. Then I told the soldiers either to let me run alone or not to treat anyone else in a belligerent manner. They reluctantly agreed, insisting that one could never tell what was being hidden behind newspapers. This was a sharp demonstration of our different perspectives.

The domestic political debates among Israelis were more vitriolic than I had previously observed, and it was uncertain what kind of government the people preferred. Even those who were most willing to end the military occupation, grant the Palestinians basic rights of citizenship, honor the terms of U.N. Resolution 242 and the Camp David Accords, and commence negotiations without patently unacceptable conditions were hard put to detect any reliable signs of encouragement from leaders in the Arab-Palestinian camp. Some leaders in Israel and in Arab countries expressed concern that during recent years America's policy in the Middle East had consisted of a series of illogical flip-flops, with a lack of resolve to enforce agreements that had been consummated.

It became increasingly clear that there were two Israels. One encompassed the ancient culture and moral values of the Jewish people, defined by the Hebrew Scriptures with which I had been familiar since childhood and representing the young nation that most Americans envisioned. The other existed within the occupied Palestinian territories, with policies shaped by a refusal to acknowledge and respect the basic human rights of the citizens. Even the more optimistic believed that militants would inevitably become more active on both sides, as settlements expanded and Jews and Arabs struggled for the same hilltops, pastures, fields, and water.
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During my fairly regular visits to the Middle East in the first ten years after leaving the White House, I especially wanted to learn more about the Palestinian people -- how they were living, what concerned them, how they reacted to existence under a prolonged political and military occupation, and what they might propose as a peaceful relationship with Israel. I sought out a representative sample of diverse voices. In Cairo, Amman, Riyadh, Beirut, Damascus, Rabat, and among scholars in America, I listened to their perspectives on the Middle East conflict as it related to them and the refugees for whom they claimed responsibility.

Although I had publicly called for the Palestinians to have their own homeland just a few weeks after becoming president and had promoted the legal and political status of the Palestinians during the Camp David negotiations, it was during these later trips that Rosalynn and I first visited extensively among Palestinian political leaders and private families in the occupied territories. Our primary contact was through the Orient House, the official PLO office in Jerusalem, where I received information and advice from Faisal Husseini, Hanan Ashrawi, and Mubarak Awad, the latter a Palestinian Christian dedicated to nonviolence. United States diplomats also cooperated in scheduling meetings and arranging our itinerary. In the West Bank and Gaza, we spent as much time as possible with Palestinians in all walks of life in large and small communities and in the rural areas. Some of the most eloquent were lawyers who were active in defending the rights of their neighbors in the Israeli military tribunals, some were university professors, and quite a number were farmers or villagers. All wanted to describe their circumscribed life in the occupied territories.

Most of the Palestinians were Muslims but a surprising number were Christians, and I talked with many priests and pastors about their ministry. They were disturbed by the violence around them and the political and economic pressures exerted by government leaders, which represented the very conservative Israeli religious parties, which were granted almost exclusive control over all forms of worship.

Our meetings took place in private homes, municipal offices, hospitals, vacant classrooms, the backs of shops or stores, and churches and mosques. In almost every case, those who agreed to meet with us had arranged to have a few family members or friends present. Before more serious discussions, we sipped black coffee, tea, or Coke and nibbled on sugary candy or cookies, talking about the weather or my general impressions of the area. At first there would be considerable reticence about broaching any subject that was sharply focused or controversial, but soon the constraints would be dropped and a more lively discussion would develop, often with bystanders and even children participating. In the larger meetings, usually several people could speak both English and Arabic and sometimes competed as translators.

On the advice of U.S. officials, we invited some special groups who were acknowledged Palestinian leaders to meet with me in Jerusalem at the American consulate, where our nation's relations with the West Bank were managed. These sessions were more formal but no less revealing. The participants presented their views as lawyers would write a brief: carefully, constructively, conclusively -- often with documents to prove their case.

In all the meetings, I tried to present my own views about the need for an end to violence and better communication among the Palestinians, Israelis, and the people of the United States. My description of the Camp David agreements and basic American policy concerning the Palestinians seemed to be news to many of them, and it was obvious that their acceptance of any of these proposals would depend heavily on the PLO's interpretation. Some of them expressed hope that Arafat would approve.

These kinds of issues regarding a general peace agreement were a minor portion of the discussions. What the Palestinians wanted was to catalogue their current grievances. On one visit to Gaza, we were guests of a prominent family that was involved in agriculture, business, and international trade. We learned that after one of their sons recently had made a statement critical of the Israeli occupation, five of the father's truckloads of oranges had been held up at the Allenby Bridge crossing into Jordan for several days -- until the fruit had rotted. This was a large portion of their total crop for the year. The father showed us the partly unloaded trucks and said that he was trying to give away the spoiled oranges for livestock feed.

Some showed us the wreckage of their former homes, which had been demolished by Israeli bulldozers and dynamite, with claims by Israel that they had been built too near Israeli settlements, on property needed by the Israeli government, or that some member of the family was a security threat.

In assessing these claims, the Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem explained that, on average, twelve innocent families lost their homes for every person accused of participation in attacks against Israelis, with almost half of the demolished homes never occupied by anyone suspected of involvement in any violent act against Israel, even throwing stones.

Contrary to the Israeli Defense Forces' argument before the Supreme Court that prior warning was given except in extraordinary cases, B'Tselem's figures indicated that this warning was given in fewer than 3 percent of the cases. In addition to punitive demolitions, Israel had razed even more Palestinian homes in "clearing" operations, plus houses that Israel claimed were built without a permit. All of this destruction was on Palestinian land. B'Tselem concluded: "Israel's policy of punitive demolitions constitutes a grave breach of international humanitarian law, and therefore a war crime. Through a variety of legal gymnastics, Israel's High Court of Justice has avoided judicial scrutiny of the issue, serving as a rubber stamp for Israel's illegal policy."

Rosalynn visited the largest hospital in Gaza, and the doctors told her that they had great difficulty providing transportation for critically ill patients. They showed her a row of ambulances that had been contributed by a European nation and said that they couldn't be used. He claimed that Israeli officials refused to issue license plates because the chassis were twelve inches too long. When Rosalynn reported this to me, I promised to intercede with Israeli officials when I returned to Jerusalem. My concerns were dismissed by an explanation that there were serious security threats because of contraband crossing to and from Gaza, and tight control was required over the dimensions of all vehicles. The Palestinians couldn't be given special permits to operate even ambulances that deviated from standards set by the local military officers.

Many Palestinians emphasized that they were deprived of their most basic human rights. They could not assemble peacefully, travel without restrictions, or own property without fear of its being confiscated by a multitude of legal ruses. As a people, they were branded by Israeli officials as terrorists, and even minor expressions of displeasure brought the most severe punishment from the military authorities. They claimed that their people were arrested and held without trial for extended periods, some tortured in attempts to force confessions, a number executed, and their trials often held with their accusers acting as judges. Their own lawyers were not permitted to defend them in the Israeli courts, and appeals were costly, long delayed, and usually fruitless.

They claimed that any demonstration against Israeli abuses resulted in mass arrests of Palestinians, including children throwing stones, bystanders who were not involved, families of protesters, and those known to make disparaging statements about the occupation. Once incarcerated, they had little hope for a fair trial and often had no access to their families or legal counsel. If they were presented with charges, the alleged crimes were usually described in very general terms equivalent to "disturbing the peace," and the sentences were often indefinite. Most of the cases were tried in military tribunals, but 90 percent of the inmates were being held in civilian jails. They pointed out that this policy of holding thousands of prisoners touched almost every Palestinian family and was a major source of festering resentment.

I urged them to take the strongest test cases to the Israeli Supreme Court and tried to assure them that they would get a fair hearing and perhaps set precedents that would be beneficial in similar cases. One of the attorneys responded strongly: " At great expense we have tried this. It just does not work. It is not like the American system, where one ruling in the top courts is followed closely by all the subordinate courts. Here there is one system under civil judges and nother under the military. Most of our cases, no matter what the subject might be, fall under the military. They are ur accusers, judges, and juries, and they all seem the same to us. When a rare civilian court decision is made in our favor, to protect a small parcel of land, for instance, it is not looked on as a precedent. By administrative decision or decree a new procedure is born to accomplish the same Israeli goals in a different fashion. Besides," he added, "we cannot take our client's case out of the West Bank into an Israeli court. We are not permitted to practice there."

I asked, "Then why don't you employ an Israeli lawyer?"

He responded, "Sometimes we do, but few of them will take our cases. Those who will do so are heavily overworked with their own Arab clients who live in Israel. One or two Jewish members of the Knesset have tried to be helpful -- mostly the most liberal members."

With the exception of Arabs who were selected by the Israelis to handle bureaucratic duties and dispense political patronage, the Palestinians we met were strong supporters of the PLO. Only rarely did anyone directly criticize the PLO, but one Palestinian attorney did complain that Arafat -- they always called him Abu Ammar -- and other PLO leaders "are more concerned with struggles for political power and money than with the plight of Palestinians living under the military occupation." 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.

There was a unanimous complaint among Palestinian political leaders and others that the worst and most persistent case of abuse was in Hebron, about twenty miles south of Jerusalem, where the biblical patriarchs Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are buried. About 450 extremely militant Jews have moved into the heart of the ancient part of the city, protected by several thousand Israeli troops. Heavily armed, these settlers attempt to drive the Palestinians away from the holy sites, often beating those they consider to be "trespassers," expanding their area by confiscating adjacent homes, and deliberately creating physical confrontations. When this occurs, the troops impose long curfews on the 150,000 Palestinian citizens of Hebron, prohibiting them from leaving their own homes to go to school or shops or to participate in the normal life of an urban community. The Palestinians claimed that the undisguised purpose of the harassment was to drive non-Jews from the area. The United Nations reported that more than 150 Israeli checkpoints had been established in and around the city.

These Palestinians were convinced that some Israeli political leaders were trying through harassment to force a much broader exodus of Muslims and Christians from the occupied territories. 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. The fruit, flowers, and perishable vegetables of the more activist families were often held at the Allenby Bridge until they spoiled, and in some areas the farmers were not permitted to replace fruit trees that died in their orchards. Their most anguished complaints were about many thousands of ancient olive trees that were being cut down by the Israelis. 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.

Teachers and parents maintained that their schools and universities were frequently closed, educators arrested, bookstores padlocked, library books censored, and students left on the streets or at home for extended periods of time without jobs. They claimed that any serious altercation between these idle and angry young people and the military authorities could result in the sending of bulldozers into the community to destroy homes. Predictably, the Palestinians professed to deplore all acts of violence and claimed that militant Israeli settlers were as guilty as any Arabs in initiating attacks but were seldom if ever arrested or punished.

One of their most bitter grievances was that foreign aid from Arab countries and even funds sent by the American government for humanitarian purposes were intercepted by the authorities and used for the benefit of the Israelis, including the construction of settlements in Palestinian communities. They claimed that the government had seized U.S. Agency for International Development funds intended for a center for retarded children in Gaza and that Jordanian and other Arab money intended for education and the development of a poultry industry in some of the poorer communities in the West Bank was being withheld.

I was disturbed by these reports and wanted to determine if they were accurate and, if so, to hear an explanation from the Israeli authorities. Before leaving Israel, I met at length with our own diplomatic officials in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem and with Israelis who administered affairs in the occupied territories. From the Israeli point of view, life under a military occupation was inevitably going to be different from that in a free democracy, and severe restrictions were considered necessary to forestall acts of violence.

As far as the harassment of activists was concerned, I was told that there were often extended delays at the Allenby Bridge entering Jordan, but these were not designed to punish any particular families. This situation was the inevitable result of constraints on commercial traffic between two countries that did not have normal trade or diplomatic relations. Lists were kept of troublemakers, and shipments from their families received more intense inspection that sometimes resulted in their spoilage. Also, it was true that Israeli products of all kinds had first priority for sales throughout the territory. Israeli officials said that the destruction of an Arab home with dynamite or bulldozers was a rare, deliberate, and highly publicized event, designed to serve as an effective deterrent to adults who might permit or encourage illegal acts by younger members of their families.

Most of the Israeli responses were forthright, but one exception was the interception of foreign aid money by the Israelis, who claimed that some of the confiscated funds might have been diverted to finance acts of Arab terrorism and that Israeli control must be sufficient to prevent abuses that could threaten the peace. They also acknowledged a concern about surplus chickens, oranges, flowers, grapes, olives, or other agricultural goods being produced in the West Bank and Gaza that might damage the Israeli farm economy. It did not make sense for foreign money to be used to increase such agricultural production. I was told that some USAID funds appropriated by the U.S. Congress even for benevolent projects were kept by the Israeli government when necessary to prevent misspending but that this withheld money was not used to build Israeli settlements in the occupied territory.

The Israelis told me that in every instance there was a legal basis for the taking of land -- or that it was needed for security purposes. In some key cases, "administrative definitions" had served to circumvent or modify legal decisions. Later I received a briefing from Meron Benvenisti, an Israeli who had served as deputy mayor of Jerusalem and was devoting his full time to a definitive analysis of Israel's policies in the occupied territories. With maps and charts, he explained that the Israelis acquired Palestinian lands in a number of different ways: by direct purchase; through seizure "for security purposes for the duration of the occupation"; by claiming state control of areas formerly held by the Jordanian government; by "taking" under some carefully selected Arabic customs or ancient laws; and by claiming as state land all that was not cultivated or specifically registered as owned by a Palestinian family. 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. Large areas taken for "security" reasons became civilian settlements. These were apparently the sources of some of the complaints I had heard.

No legal cases concerning these land matters were permitted in the Palestinian courts; they now had to be decided by the Israeli civil governor. Since 1980, with the Likud Party in control of the government, the taking of Arab land had been greatly accelerated, and the building of Jewish settlements in the West Bank had become one of the government's top priorities. Benvenisti added that the number of Israeli settlers in the West Bank had been previously limited but that new policies and present trends meant that the further annexation of substantial occupied areas was probably a foregone conclusion. It was true that Palestinian lawyers were not permitted to practice in the Israeli courts, where most of the land issues were resolved, but he assured me that Israeli lawyers were available to represent some of the Palestinians. Most frequently, one of the more radical members of the Knesset was cited as an example.

I arranged to meet with Aharon Barak, who was one of the heroes at Camp David and later had become chief justice of the Israeli Supreme Court. We met in a hotel bar, and I began to go down a list of concerns about the maltreatment of Palestinians, referring to the orange trucks and ambulances. Barak quickly pointed out that it was not legally appropriate for him to discuss specific cases, but he explained that the judiciary had to walk a tight line between what was appropriate under the special circumstances of a military occupation and protecting the rights of people in the West Bank and Gaza. Also, the courts could deal only with cases brought before them. He admitted that it was not easy for aggrieved Palestinians to find their way through this tortuous legal path but said that the Supreme Court had always attempted to provide justice in civilian cases under its purview.

I asked the chief justice if he considered the treatment of the Palestinians to be fair, and he replied that he dealt fairly with every case brought before him in the high court but he did not have the power to initiate legal action. I asked him if he felt a responsibility to investigate the overall situation, and he replied that he had all he could do in deciding individual matters that were brought before the court. Barak said that there were special legal provisions related to the occupied territories and acknowledged that many of the more sensitive issues were turned over to military courts. When I requested his personal assessment of the situation in the West Bank and Gaza, he said that he had not been in the area for many years and had no plans to visit there. I remarked that if he was to make decisions that affected the lives of people in the occupied areas, he should know more about how they lived. He answered with a smile, "I am a judge, not an investigator. "

On one of my later visits to Jerusalem, in 1990, some of the Christian leaders asked for an urgent meeting with me, but I declined because all my remaining time was scheduled. When they persisted, I finally responded that I could meet with them one evening, but only after I had finished my last engagement. At this late hour, after midnight, I was surprised to receive custodians of the Christian holy places plus cardinals, archbishops, patriarchs, and other leaders of the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, Armenian, Coptic, Ethiopian Orthodox, Maronite, Anglican, Lutheran, Baptist, and other faiths. They were distressed by what they considered to be increasing abuse and unwarranted constraints imposed on them by the Israeli government, and each of them related events that caused him concern.

Subsequently, when I met with Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir, he assured me that there was no official inclination to discriminate against Christians. He went on to explain that the formation of a majority governing coalition required support of the smaller deeply religious parties, and their primary demands were that they be excused from military service, receive special funding for benevolent causes, and have authority over all religious matters. He seemed to consider these matters out of his hands, and I understood for the first time why there was such a surprising exodus of Christians from the Holy Land.
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