WASHINGTON, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter co-authored an op-ed with former Irish President Mary Robinson in Foreign Policy magazine condemning Israel's military actions in Gaza and urging the United States to recognize Hamas as a legitimate political force.
In the op-ed, published on Monday, Carter and Robinson condemn Israel's conduct:
"There is no humane or legal justification for how the Israeli Defence Force is conducting this war, pulverising with bombs, missiles and artillery large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools and hospitals, displacing families and killing Palestinian non-combatants. Much of Gaza has lost its access to water and electricity completely. This is a humanitarian catastrophe."
Though clearly admonishing Israel's actions, and taking care to point out the death toll of Palestinian civilians as much higher than that incurred by Israel, the piece acknowledges both sides as culpable in death of innocent civilians.
"There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes. This is true for both sides. Hamas's indiscriminate targeting of Israeli civilians is equally unacceptable," Carter and Robinson write.
They go on to identify the factors "necessary to make the unity effort possible" as the lifting of the blockade and seven-year-sanctions on Gaza and the creation of the opportunity for Hamas public sector workers.
"These requirements for a human standard of life continue to be denied," they write.
Carter and Robinson propose that "The initial goal should be the full restoration of free movement of people and goods to and from Gaza through Israel, Egypt and the sea."
Both of the authors are members of The Elders, an international non-governmental organization formed in 2007 by the late Nelson Mandela comprised of elder statesmen, peace activists, and humanitarian advocates who describe themselves as "independent global leaders working together for peace and human rights."
The Elders cite the need for international judicial proceedings and urge the U.N. Security Council to "vote a resolution recognizing the inhumane conditions in Gaza and mandate an end to the siege."
They also note that the Swiss government, at the Palestinians request, is considering calling for a Geneva convention, which "could pressure Israel and Hamas into observing their duty to protect civilian populations under international law."
The op-ed urges the U.S. and the rest of the world to "recognise that Hamas is not just a military force but also a political one."
According to Carter and Robinson, "Only by recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor -- one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people -- can the west begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons."
"Ultimately, however, lasting peace depends on the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel," they added.
The Elders concluded the piece by saying, "Leaders in Israel, Palestine and the world's major powers should believe that these policy changes are within their reach and would move Israelis and Palestinians closer to a day when the skies over the Holy Land can forever fall silent."