Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, in the Mideast to help monitor this week's Palestinian elections, urged Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday to stamp out terror, and told Israel it should withdraw from more West Bank settlements. "(Violence) is inherently counterproductive for the well-being of the Palestinian people and obviously prevents any further progress in the peace process," Carter said at an Israeli policy conference in the Tel Aviv suburb of Herzliya.
"I hope and believe that after this election there will be an extremely strong commitment by Abu Mazen and the entire Palestinian Authority. . . to stamp out the last vestiges of terrorism," he said, using the name by which Abbas is popularly known. In the balloting Wednesday, Abbas' ruling Fatah Party is facing a stiff challenge from Hamas militants, who are sworn to Israel's destruction. Abbas hopes to tame Hamas by bringing it into the political establishment.
Over the summer, Israel withdrew from four small West Bank settlements when it evacuated the Gaza Strip. Carter said that was not enough. "You can't have a Palestinian state living in peace and dignity if (the West Bank is) filled with Israeli settlements," he reasoned, adding that it was "reasonable" for Israel to retain settlements near its pre-1967 border, reports the AP. N.U.
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