The Guardian May 19, 2004

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.

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