WASHINGTON — Former US president Jimmy Carter penned an op-ed in The New York Times Monday imploring President Barack Obama to formally recognize a Palestinian state before Donald Trump takes office in January.
Carter, who helped broker the 1978 Camp David Accords that brought peace between Israel and Egypt, argued the possibility of solidifying a two-state outcome between Israelis and Palestinians was dwindling because of continued settlement activity in the West Bank.
Carter’s controversial 2006 book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid” designated Israel an apartheid state “with two peoples occupying the same land, but completely separated from each other, with Israelis totally dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their basic human rights.”
While the 39th president did not reiterate his allegation of Israeli apartheid in his latest commentary on the conflict, he nonetheless cast full blame for its continuation exclusively on Israeli activity.
With eight weeks left before Trump assumes power, Carter insisted the outgoing president could resuscitate negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians by granting the Palestinians statehood recognition unilaterally.
“I am convinced that the United States can still shape the future of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict before a change in presidents, but time is very short,” he said. “The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20 is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership.”
“The commitment to peace is in danger of abrogation,” he continued. “Israel is building more and more settlements, displacing Palestinians and entrenching its occupation of Palestinian lands.”
This is not the first time Carter has published an opinion piece criticizing Israel and promoting the Palestinian cause. In August 2014, amid the Israel-Hamas war that summer, he wrote in Foreign Policy magazine that the situation was a “humanitarian catastrophe” and that the US should recognize Hamas’s “legitimacy as a political actor.”
On Monday, the Georgia native also encouraged the UN Security Council to pass a resolution that would delineate parameters for resolving the conflict, which he suggested would entail a return to the 1967 borders and condemning all Israeli communities beyond the Green Line as illegal.
He cited two moves Obama made during his first term that suggested embracing such initiatives would be in line with the current president’s previous policy — his 2009 demand that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu place a 10-month moratorium on West Bank settlement construction as a trust-building measure, and his 2011 speech that said “the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines.”
Carter left out the next part of Obama’s sentence in that speech, however. The full sentence reads: “We believe the borders of Israel and Palestine should be based on the 1967 lines with mutually agreed swaps, so that secure and recognized borders are established for both states.”
Along with measures such as demilitarizing any Palestinian state and establishing a UN “peacekeeping force,” Carter maintained the two moves for which he was advocating would create the conditions for progress in the region.
“The combined weight of United States recognition, United Nations membership and a Security Council resolution solidly grounded in international law would lay the foundation for future diplomacy,” he said.
There has been speculation in recent months that Obama might make a final push for peace or recognition before leaving office in order to help advance his vision for a two-state outcome.
President-elect Trump has offered seemingly contradictory views on what role he wants to play in the conflict, but has said multiple times that he would like to pursue a peace deal between the two parties.
In his most recent interview with The New York Times, he said,” I would love to be able to be the one that made peace with Israel and the Palestinians” and suggested his Orthodox Jewish son-in-law Jared Kushner could be made a special envoy for Middle East peace.