Former US president Jimmy Carter said Monday that Israel’s current government has abandoned the two-state solution, making a “catastrophic” one-state solution increasingly inevitable. Speaking to reporters in Jerusalem, Carter endorsed the Palestinians’ plan to ask the United Nations to accept Palestine as a nonmember state, and said he hoped Israel and the US, who oppose the move, would nonetheless accept the outcome of the UN’s vote.
“We are heading towards a one-state outcome, which will fail to ensure the security and democratic rights of the people of Israel and renege on the promise of self-determination for Palestinians,” Carter said. “The two-state solution is vanishing. We urgently need a fresh approach by all parties if a Palestinian state is to be achieved.”
Carter, who is visiting Israel as the head of a delegation of former statesmen, said that all Israeli prime ministers since Golda Meir supported the two-state solution — until Benjamin Netanyahu.
‘The two-state solution has basically been abandoned and we’re now moving toward a Greater Israel, or Eretz Israel, taking over all of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan river’
“Every prime minister I’ve known has been a pursuer of the two-state solution and I don’t know that [US] President [Barack] Obama has found that prime minister Netanyahu is going to go that route,” Carter said in the American Colony Hotel in East Jerusalem. “All indication to us is that the two-state solution has basically been abandoned and we’re now moving toward a Greater Israel, or Eretz Israel, taking over all of the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, which I think is contrary to the two-state solution concept.”
“That policy of promoting a two-state solution seems to be abandoned now,” Carter added. “And we’re deeply concerned about this move toward a catastrophic one-state choice — it’s not a solution, it’s a choice. This is a major concern.”
Carter, who sat in the White House from 1977 to 1981, is touring in the Middle East as a member of “The Elders,” a group of former statesmen who seek to promote peace across the globe. Carter is traveling with former Norwegian prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland and Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, who both also spoke very critically of Israel.
Robinson said she had witnessed “so many discriminations and human rights concerns” during her visit to Israel.
“Each time we come, I see a real deterioration in the lives and in the situation of Palestinians,” she said. “The growth of settlements — each time it’s quite remarkable, it takes your breath away.”
Earlier on Monday, the three “Elders” met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah. Abbas told them that he has decided to go ahead with the plan to ask the UN General Assembly to accept Palestine as a nonmember state in November. While Israel and the US fiercely oppose such a move, saying it doesn’t change facts on the ground and would preempt the outcome of future negotiations, Carter, Robinson and Brundtland wholeheartedly endorsed the plan, as it would give the Palestinians “a new stature.”
“My hope is that the Israelis will say: We were opposed to it but we accept it, and the same for the United States,” Carter told The Times of Israel at the press conference. “I’d hope that any country that votes against the Palestinian move or abstains, after the decision is made by the General Assembly will accept the results of the vote.”
The Elders delegation’s next stop is Cairo, where they are expected to meet senior officials, including President Mohammed Morsi. Carter said he has known Morsi for a long time and that Morsi intends to maintain the 1979 peace agreement with Israel.