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The Carter Center Calls for Ceasefire and Dialogue in Gaza Jan. 26, 2008


Deborah Hakes, 404 420 5124

After two years of almost complete isolation, the people of the Gaza Strip breached the iron wall along the border with Egypt, pouring over the border to seek basic supplies, receive needed health care, and some said, to "breathe a breath of freedom." Although Egypt seems poised to close the border again, most Gazans are giving Hamas credit for relieving their misery, even if the relief is temporary.

The current crisis in Gaza underscores the need for immediate action and a new approach by the key actors, including a mutual ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza, and reconciliation between the Palestinian leaders in Fatah and Hamas.

Although some Israeli leaders had expressed hope that the siege in Gaza would lead to an uprising against Hamas, the group enjoys significant popular support among Palestinians, as well as electoral legitimacy from their victory in the parliamentary elections in 2006. As a result, efforts to defeat Hamas militarily or to strangle them economically are unlikely to succeed, while serving to strengthen their image as the leader of the resistance to what most Palestinians see as an illegal occupation of their territory.

The Carter Center strongly condemns the rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza against Israeli civilians, which cannot be justified under any circumstances, and respects the Israeli government's right and duty to take measures to protect the security of its people. At the same time, the Center also condemns Israel's collective punishment of the 1.5 million inhabitants of Gaza, an action that violates international standards of political and humanitarian rights.

The government of Egypt made an appropriate response to the breached wall by allowing the movement of people into its territory to alleviate this humanitarian crisis, though its previous decision to seal the border contributed to the siege and desperation of the people of Gaza. The Center hopes these events prompt a new border agreement between Egypt and Gazans that will allow more regular movement of people and goods.

More broadly, as Israel, Egypt, the United States, and the Palestinian leadership consider how best to proceed in light of the forced opening of the Rafah crossing, the Center strongly urges all sides to seek another road - a road of negotiation, dialogue, and conciliation, rather than of force, punishment, and the continuous ratcheting up of the vicious cycle of violence.

Israel and Hamas should explore without delay a possible agreement for mutual cease fire throughout Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza that would allow citizens of both Israel and Gaza to live free from fear of rocket attacks, air strikes, and military incursions. Such an agreement could be a first step toward a more comprehensive peace agreement between Israel and all of the Palestinians.

The Government of Israel should lift the blockade of the Gaza border crossings and resume not only the regular delivery of electricity, fuel, and humanitarian supplies to Gaza, but also the normal movement of imports and exports necessary to maintain economic life.

Palestinians should act soon to heal the rift that has torn their community apart. As proposed by Egypt, talks should proceed to reach a political solution between President Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party and Hamas' political leaders. A resolution of the crisis in Gaza, reconciliation among Palestinians, and the viability of any peace agreement between Israel and Abbas are inextricably linked.


The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide. A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, the Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers to increase crop production. Visit for more information.

Read more about the Carter Center's work in Israel and the Palestinian Territories

Related Resources

Oct. 24, 2007: Carter Center Urges Israel To Maintain Energy Supplies in Gaza

Sept. 21, 2007: Israeli Actions in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank: Prospects Dim for Middle East Peace

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