Nobel winner Carter urges Israel to withdraw from territories
By Ha'aretz Service and Reuters
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter used his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech Tuesday to call on Israel to comply with a United Nations resolution to withdraw from the territories as a fundamental step towards peace in the Middle East.
"At Camp David in 1978 and in Oslo in 1993, Israelis, Egyptians, and Palestinians have endorsed the only reasonable prescription for peace: United Nations Resolution 242," he said.
"It condemns the acquisition of territory by force, calls for withdrawal of Israel from the occupied territories, and provides for Israelis to live securely and in harmony with their neighbors. There is no other mandate whose implementation could more profoundly improve international relationships."
Saying that war is always evil, Carter, calling himself a "citizen of a troubled world", also made veiled criticisms of U.S. President George W. Bush for opposing UN-led schemes to protect the environment or to create an international criminal court, and urged the world to accept UN leadership in tackling challenges from the Middle East to global poverty.
"Global challenges must be met with an emphasis on peace, in harmony with others, with strong alliances and international consensus," Carter told a ceremony in Oslo City Hall after collecting a Nobel gold medal and diploma to a standing ovation.
"Imperfect as it may be, there is no doubt that this can best be done through the United Nations," said the 78-year-old Democrat, who was U.S. president from 1977-81.
"War may sometimes be a necessary evil," Carter told an audience of about 1,000 people including his wife Rosalynn and Norway's King Harald and Queen Sonja.
"But no matter how necessary, it is always an evil, never a good. We will not learn how to live together in peace by killing each other's children," he said.
Carter, who almost won the prize in 1978 for brokering an Israeli-Egyptian peace deal, also said "the world is, in many ways, a more dangerous place" in the new millennium because of civil wars and "appalling acts of terrorism."
The head of the Nobel Committee, Gunnar Berge, said Carter was honoured for decades working for peace, democracy and human rights. Berge did not mention that he had said two months ago, in announcing the prize, that he also reckoned it was a "kick in the leg" to Bush's policy on Iraq.
"Jimmy Carter will probably not go down in history as the most effective president. But he is certainly the best ex-president the country ever had," he said.
Carter reiterated calls on Iraqi President Saddam Hussein to comply fully with UN weapons inspectors and warned powerful nations against launching wars in a bid to prevent bigger conflicts.
Carter told CNN in a later interview that the UN Security Council should have the final word in deciding if there should be a war against Iraq - even though nations including China and Russia a veto on the Council.
He said he "hoped and expected" that Bush would submit to UN decisions. Asked if he would have risked UN vetoes for key U.S. policies when he was president, he said: "'Welcome' is maybe not the right word. I would have accepted it."
About 40 Iranian exiles protested near City Hall, accusing Carter of paving the way to the 1979 Iranian Revolution and a rise of Islamic fundamentalism.
"Carter, Carter shame on you, what have you done to Iran? Remember 1979. Shame on you, [Nobel] committee!" they chanted.
Carter also made a plea for acceptance of global standards on issues including a ban on landmines, creation of an international criminal court to try war crimes and schemes to combat global warming mainly caused by burning fossil fuels.
"Those agreements already adopted must be fully implemented, and others should be pursued aggressively," Carter said. Bush has declined to sign up to several key global pacts.
Carter also praised the United States, saying it had used its power with restraint in the past. "We have not assumed that super strength guarantees super wisdom," he said.
Carter said he had previously pointed to "the growing chasm between the richest and poorest people on earth" as the main challenge of the millennium.
"The results of this disparity are root causes of most of the world's unresolved problems, including starvation, illiteracy, environmental degradation, violent conflict and unnecessary illnesses that range from Guinea worm to HIV/AIDS," he said.
Carter later waved to a crowd of several hundred people in a traditional
torchlit march past his hotel in freezing cold. He was to attend a Nobel
banquet, with peanut cake on the menu.