BEIRUT, Feb. 18 - Former hostage Terry Waite said on Wednesday the West's
failure to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict was breeding terrorism.
''I am not happy with the way in which the West is attempting to deal
with so-called terrorists,'' the former Church of England envoy said during
his first visit to Lebanon since he was freed in 1991 from five years of
''Because of chronic failure to deal with...the Israeli-Arab dispute,
we are making further problems across the Arab world. Pushing more people
into extreme positions because they then have no hope simply means that we
are fostering terrorism.''
The United States brands a number of Middle East-based groups
fighting against Israel, including Lebanon's Hizbollah and the Palestinian
Hamas and Islamic Jihad, as terrorist organisations.
Waite, who helped free Westerners held in Libya, Iran and Lebanon,
came to Lebanon in 1987 to negotiate more releases.
Accused of being a spy, Waite was himself taken hostage by a group at
the core of Lebanon's Shi'ite Muslim movement of the 1980s, behind attacks
on the U.S. Marines barracks and embassy.
Waite spent most of his five years in captivity in solitary
confinement, was chained to a wall and often left in darkness.
Back 12 years after his release on another humanitarian mission, this
time for Y Care, the overseas development arm of the YMCA, Waite said he was
''Do I have bitterness? No. In war people behave in strange and
unusual ways. They do not always behave according to their true character,''
he said of his captivity during Lebanon's 1975-1991 civil war.
Waite toured Palestinian refugee camps in northern Lebanon on
Tuesday, meeting youths who had benefited from schemes run by his group. He
heads on Thursday to Gaza and Jerusalem, where Y Care funds projects for
Waite said it was a ''disgrace'' that Palestinians were still living
in camps over half a century after they were displaced.
He also slammed the indefinite U.S. detention of hundreds of foreign
suspects at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba as part of the U.S. war on terror
launched after the Sept 11 attacks.
''I'm not happy with the way the West seems to be stereotyping the
Arab world and the Islamic world,'' he said