For more than a quarter century, Israeli policy has been in conflict with that of the United States and the international community. Israel’s occupation of Palestine has obstructed a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land, regardless of whether Palestinians had no formalized government, one headed by Yasir Arafat or Mahmoud Abbas, or with Abbas as president and Hamas controlling the parliament and cabinet.
The unwavering US position since Dwight Eisenhower’s administration has been that Israel’s borders coincide with those established in 1949, and, since 1967, the universally adopted UN Resolution 242 has mandated Israel’s withdrawal from the occupied territories. This policy was reconfirmed even by Israel in 1978 and 1993, and emphasized by all American presidents, including George W. Bush. As part of the Quartet, including Russia, the UN, and the European Union, he has endorsed a “Road Map” for peace. But Israel has officially rejected its basic premises with patently unacceptable caveats and prerequisites.
With Israel’s approval, The Carter Center has monitored all three Palestinian elections. Supervised by a blue-ribbon commission of college presidents and distinguished jurists, they have all been honest, fair, and peaceful, with the results accepted by winners and losers.
Hamas will control the cabinet and prime minister’s office, but Mahmoud Abbas retains all authority and power exercised by Yasir Arafat. He still heads the PLO, the only Palestinian entity recognized by Israel, and could deal with Israeli leaders under this umbrella, independent of Hamas control. He has unequivocally endorsed the Quartet’s Road Map. Post-election polls show that 80% of Palestinians still want a peace agreement with Israel and nearly 70% support Abbas as president.