Q. Are you surprised that more progress has not been made since Camp David?
A. I was really disappointed when President Reagan dropped the ball completely. He showed no interest in the Mideast peace process after I left office and we were right on the verge of a complete success back then. We had two facets of the agreement that I negotiated with (Israeli Prime Minister Menachem) Begin and (Egyptian President Anwar) Sadat. One was the peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, not a word of which has ever been violated in the last 30 years. The other one was a commitment of Israelis to withdraw their political and military forces from the West Bank and to let the Palestinians have full autonomy. On that part of the process, Israel did not carry out their promise and President Reagan didn’t try to enforce the agreement that they had signed and that their parliament had approved. So yes, I was disappointed...
Q. Clinton worked hard in his last few days to get something done. President George W. Bush had other matters on his agenda. Why don’t we see a sustained presidential effort to finally broker an agreement?
A. Because it’s not politically attractive in the United States. There would be no way a member of the House or Senate in Washington could make a public statement condemning Israel or supporting the Palestinians. They would probably be threatened with being out of office the next term. So it’s not a popular thing in the United States to take a neutral or balanced position that’s necessary to bring a peace agreement. Most presidents have the same pressure on them that the members of Congress have that I’ve just described, and they stay out of the sustained, intense negotiations that you’ve just mentioned.
Q. Is a two-state solution still viable in light of the internal politics of Israel and the Palestinian community? For instance, is it realistic to expect that the Israeli government will force abandonment of most of the settlements?
A. The one-state solution is not a solution. It would be a devastating blow to Israel, and I don’t know of any Israelis that publicly espouse a one-state solution. What that means is just one nation between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. Israel would have only three options then. One is to expel the Palestinians from their own land and try to drive them into Lebanon or into Jordan or into Egypt, none of which would welcome those Palestinians. The second way would be to have a nation where Jews would have a vote and any non-Jew would not have a vote. That would be apartheid, and Israelis don’t want that, either.
The third option would be that a majority (of residents) will soon be Arabs. In fact, at this very moment, there are more non-Jews in that area than there are Jews, and there’ll soon be a majority of just Arabs, some of which are Muslims, some of which are Christians. So you would eliminate the prospect of a Jewish state. It would become an Arab state. And that’s what (Moammar) Khaddafy endorsed the other day. He wrote an op-ed piece for the New York Times, I think it was, he said I want a one-state solution. When he went on to explain why, he said this would be a nation where the Arabs would be in charge and the Jews would be a minority. That’s the three things you’re faced with, and no Israeli that’s responsible would ever endorse that kind of prospect.
Q. And certainly the Israeli lobby in the United States would never agree to such a thing?
A. No, they wouldn’t. You have to remember that the major Israeli lobbies, they’re not in favor of peace. They never have professed to be. What they are in favor of is protecting the policies of whatever government is in charge in Israel. If you look at their Web sites, they make that quite clear. So they’re for Israel, they’re not for peace between Israel and its neighbors.
Monday, February 09, 2009
Carter & That Darn 'Israel Lobby'
From a recent interview with indefatigable Jimmy Carter: