Carter: Support Palestinian unity accord

May 4, 2011 at 7:13 AM
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WASHINGTON, May 4 (UPI) -- A reconciliation agreement forged by leaders of two key Palestinian political movements deserves international support, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said.

"If the United States and the international community support this effort, they can help Palestinian democracy and establish the basis for a unified Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza that can make a secure peace with Israel," Carter wrote in a commentary published in The Washington Post.

The agreement between Fatah and Hamas will permit both movements to contest presidential and legislative elections within a year, Carter wrote.

"Support for the interim government is critical, and the United States needs to take the lead," Carter said.

The accord should be viewed as a Palestinian contribution to the wave of pro-democracy protests sweeping across the region, Carter said, as well as a fervent wish to heal internal divisions.

"The agreement also signals the growing importance of an emerging Egyptian democracy," the former president and Nobel Peace laureate said. "Acting as an honest broker, the interim Egyptian government coaxed both sides to agreement by merging the October 2009 Cairo Accord that Fatah signed with additions that respond to Hamas' reservations."

The accord commits both sides to consensus appointments of an election commission and electoral court, Carter said. The two parties also pledge to appoint a unity government of "technocrats" who are neither Fatah nor Hamas. Security will be overseen by a committee set up by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas with Egypt's assistance.

Why should the international community support the agreement? Three reasons, Carter said. It respects Palestinian rights; it could lead to a "durable" cease-fire with international support; and it could provide the means to press for a final peace agreement for two states.

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