Dear Mr. President:
We former U.S. diplomats applaud our 52 British colleagues who
recently sent a letter to Prime Minister Tony Blair criticizing 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 U.S. 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 U.S. 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
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 U.S.
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-honored 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.
Signatories include Andrew I Killgore, Ambassador to Qatar,
1977-1980, Richard H Curtiss, former chief inspector, U.S.
Information Agency, Colbert C Held, Retired FSO and author, John
Gunther Dean, former Ambassador to India, Thomas J Carolan, Counsel
General Istanbul, '88-'92, C Edward Bernier, Counselor of Embassy,
Information and Culture, Islamabad, Pakistan, Donald A Kruse,
American Consul in Jerusalem, Ambassador Edward L Peck, former
Chief of Mission in Iraq and Mauritania, John Powell, Admin
Counselor in Beirut, '75-'76, John Gunther Dean, US Ambassador to
India, Greg Thielmann, Director, Office for Strategic Proliferation
and Military Affairs, Bureau of Intelligence and Research, James
Akins, Ambassador to Saudi Arabia, Talcott Seeyle, Ambassador to
Syria, Eugene Bird, Counselor of Embassy in Saudi Arabia, Richard H
Nolte, Ambassador to Egypt, Ray Close, Chief of Station Jeddah,
Saudi Arabia 1971-1979, Shirl McArthur, Commercial Attache,
Bangkok, Thomas J Scotes, Ambassador to Yemen 1975-1978,Robert V
Keeley, Ambassador to Greece, Edward RM Kane, CIA Deputy Chief of
Station in Iraq.