One week before the signing of the Geneva Accord, former President Jimmy Carter has called on the Bush administration and former President Bill Clinton to join him at the ceremony.This content was published on November 24, 2003 - 11:24
For Carter, the symbolic peace accord is a “culmination” of all previous accords between Israelis and Palestinians.
In an interview with swissinfo, Jimmy Carter said he was “very grateful” to Switzerland for supporting the Geneva Accord.
While urging the Bush administration to endorse the initiative, Carter said it was equally important that Washington had not dismissed it out of hand.
“I am pleased that the Bush administration has not condemned the Geneva Accord,” said the former Nobel peace prize winner.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Colin Powell sent a letter to the architects of the agreement, Israel’s Yossi Beilin and the Palestinian, Yasser Abed Rabbo.
According to the American embassy in Israel, Powell wrote that the accord was “important” and “potentially useful”.
But the State Department stresses that the Geneva Accord cannot replace the so-called “road map”, sponsored by the United States, Russia, the European Union and the United Nations, which is currently stalled.
“The fact is that we already have an initiative, and that is the road map”, Greg Sullivan, the State Department’s spokesman for Middle Eastern Affairs, told swissinfo.
Sullivan explained that the Geneva Accord “does not have any official standing with us and is not a document that, at this point, represents the views of the Israeli government or the Palestinian Authority”.
Carter’s take on the situation is very different. The former US president says he is “very discouraged and disappointed by the lack of progress” on the ground and considers the “road map” dead in the water.
“The step-by-step process is what has killed the road map,” Carter told swissinfo.
Sitting on the fence
The State Department said it did not want to comment on Carter’s presence at the signing of the Geneva Accord.
In contrast, the Swiss embassy in Washington has welcomed the participation of a man who achieved one of the few breakthroughs in resolving the Middle East conflict, persuading Israeli premier Menahem Begin and Egypt’s Anwar Sadat to sign the Camp David Accords of 1978.
“It’s a very positive and encouraging sign,” embassy spokesman Alex Biscaro told swissinfo.
“A public figure such as Jimmy Carter carries a certain symbolism because the former US president brings hope, especially for the people of the Middle East, that a solution to the conflict is possible,” he added.
swissinfo, Marie-Christine Bonzom in Washington
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