Former US diplomats criticise Bush's policy
More than 50 former British ambassadors and other senior diplomats wrote recently to British Prime Minister Tony Blair condemning their government's recognition of illegal Israeli settlements and other Middle Eastern policies. Now, in yet another indication of the growing concern over Bush-Blair policies, 16 former US diplomats have written to President Bush critical of his unqualified support for Sharon's policies and actions. The British letter was published in The Guardian of May 5, 2004. The US diplomats' letter, dated May 4, 2004, is published below. Dear Mr President We former US diplomats applaud our 52 British colleagues who recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair criticising his Middle East policy and calling on Britain to exert more influence over the United States. As retired foreign service officers we care deeply about our nation's foreign policy and US credibility in the world. We also are deeply concerned by your April 14 endorsement of Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's unilateral plan to reject the rights of three million Palestinians, to deny the right of refugees to return to their homeland, and to retain five large illegal settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank. This plan defies UN Security Council resolutions calling for Israel's return of occupied territories. It ignores international laws declaring Israeli settlements illegal. It flouts UN Resolution 194, passed in 1948, which affirms the right of refugees to return to their homes or receive compensation for the loss of their property and assistance in resettling in a host country should they choose to do so. And it undermines the Road Map for peace drawn up by the Quartet, including the US. Finally, it reverses longstanding American policy in the Middle East. Your meeting with Sharon followed a series of intensive negotiating sessions between Israelis and Americans, but which left out Palestinians. In fact, you and Prime Minister Sharon consistently have excluded Palestinians from peace negotiations. Former Palestinian Information Minister Yasser Abed Rabbo voiced the overwhelming reaction of people around the world when he said, "I believe President Bush declared the death of the peace process today". By closing the door to negotiations with Palestinians and the possibility of a Palestinian state, you have proved that the United States is not an even-handed peace partner. You have placed US diplomats, civilians and military doing their jobs overseas in an untenable and even dangerous position. Your unqualified support of Sharon's extra-judicial assassinations, Israel's Berlin Wall-like barrier, its harsh military measures in occupied territories, and now your endorsement of Sharon's unilateral plan are costing our country its credibility, prestige and friends. It is not too late to reassert American principles of justice and fairness in our relations with all the peoples of the Middle East. Support negotiations between Palestinians and Israelis, with the United States serving as a truly honest broker. A return to the time-honoured American tradition of fairness will reverse the present tide of ill will in Europe and the Middle East — even in Iraq. Because the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is at the core of the problems in the Middle East, the entire region-and the world-will rejoice along with Israelis and Palestinians when the killing stops and peace is attained. Richard H Curtiss, former chief inspector, US Information Agency Colbert C Held, Retired FSO and author Donald A Kruse, American Consul in Jerusalem Ambassador Edward L Peck, former Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania and many more.