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Carter: Palestine book yielded productive debate

The Associated Press

WASHINGTON - Former President Jimmy Carter said on Wednesday the backlash from his recent book has yielded a productive debate on Israeli-Palestinian relations at a time when the Middle East peace process has been ''completely dormant'' under the Bush Administration.

Carter urged Bush and Congress to ''have the courage to face the facts and do what is necessary to return America to its honored position as a peacemaker.''

Carter spoke at a ceremony in Washington where he received the Ridenhour Courage Prize, named after former investigative journalist and Vietnam veteran Ron Ridenhour, who helped expose the My Lai atrocities during the war.

Carter's book, ''Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid'', has generated protests nationwide from Jewish groups who say he unfairly accused Israel of oppressing Palestinians.

Carter said the rise in Islamic militancy is a direct result of the failed negotiations for peace in Israel and Palestine. His aim in writing the book was to explain the Palestinian plight and to spur peace negotiations, he said.

Carter said 80 percent of the thousands of letters he's received in recent months have been supportive.