Former US president Jimmy Carter has called on the United States and EU to recognize Hamas as "not just a military but also a political force" in an op-ed written for Foreign Policy on Monday.
"Hamas cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise. Only by recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor - one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people - can the West begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons," Carter writes.
In his op-ed, the former president accuses Israel of "deliberate attacks on civilians," saying these are war crimes.
"There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war. Israeli bombs, missiles, and artillery have pulverized large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools, and hospitals. More than 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinian noncombatants have been killed. Much of Gaza has lost access to water and electricity completely. This is a humanitarian catastrophe," he writes.
While he does lay the blame on Hamas for doing the same - indiscriminately targeting Israeli civilians - he draws a comparison between the number of casualties on both sides.
Jimmy Carter (Photo: AP)
"However, three Israeli civilians have been killed by Palestinian rockets, while an overwhelming majority of the 1,600 Palestinians killed have been civilians, including more than 330 children. The need for international judicial proceedings to investigate and end these violations of international law should be taken very seriously," he asserts.
Carter pledges his support to the Palestinian unity government, calling it "one of the most encouraging developments in recent years."
Carter also urges the UN Security Council to vote on a resolution "recognizing the inhumane conditions in Gaza and mandate an end to the siege."
He stipulates the need for international monitors to control Gaza's border crossings, as well as report on ceasefire violations, calling for the reinstatement of the EU Border Assistance Mission that was launched in 2005 and suspended in 2007, when Hamas took over the Gaza Strip after a Palestinian civil war.