Former US president Jimmy Carter has written a book drawing on his experience in office brokering peace deals between Israel and its neighbours. The main thesis of the book is that Israel has shown little interest in making peace with Palestinians but great interest in grabbing land in the West Bank. (Surprise! Surprise!)

Jimmy Carter asserts that Israeli leaders negotiated in bad faith, and deliberately violated commitments made to him and his successors by continuing to colonise Palestinian territory whilst going through the motions at successive rounds of ‘peace’ negotiations. He says peace would have been within their grasp if the Camp David accords had been honoured and negotiations pursued for Palestinian acceptance of Israel within internationally accepted borders. He also says Israel is effectively operating a system of apartheid within the “imprisonment wall” in the occupied territories. This treatment of “non-Jews … as a substratum of society is contrary to the principles of morality and justice on which democracies are founded”.

Jimmy Carter’s case is one rarely heard in the US. There is the awesome power of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) which can muster unprecedented Congress support and thousands of ‘foot soldiers’ with a vast pool of wealth to drown out the Israeli reality. The book has been denounced by AIPAC and its sympathizers as anti-Semitism, (that old chestnut!). Opposition to AIPAC has come from Orthodox Jews picketing with “Judaism rejects Israel” placards. But all is not going AIPAC’s way as the backlash against supporters of the Iraq war gains momentum; and liberal Jewish groups, Arab Americans, and National Interest groups are mounting ‘spoiling’ campaigns. It is becoming acceptable to question the US/Israeli relationship and ask if the US is pursuing its interests or Israel’s in the Middle East. It’s suggested too that terrorism can only be effectively confronted if a viable Palestinian state is created.

Noel Hamel

PALESTINE: PEACE NOT APARTHEID: Simon & Schuster, £17.99