US influence in the Middle East has never been weaker and prospects for a peace settlement between Israel and the Palestinians are grim, former US president Jimmy Carter warned on Tuesday. He also urged Israel and President Barack Obama to pursue a diplomatic solution to the Iranian nuclear standoff.

The United States, Carter said in an appearance at the Carter Center in Atlanta, has “less influence” over Middle East nations and diplomacy in the region than it has had at any time since Israel was established as a nation-state in 1948.

“Our country’s government has basically abandoned the effort” for peace in the region, Carter said, adding that he still supports a two-state solution for Palestine and Israel.

He said he hopes Israel resists any urge to strike Iran “on its own,” and he discouraged Obama from drawing a “line in the sand” that Iran would almost certainly cross.

The former president said he believed the civil war in Syria would worsen as other nations in the region flood the participants with weapons. “There is little hope of good things coming out of Syria any time soon,” he said.

However, the brunt of Carter’s speech was devoted to a scathing indictment of his country’s presidential election process, which he charged was shot through with “financial corruption” that threatened American democracy.

“We have one of the worst election processes in the world right in the United States of America, and it’s almost entirely because of the excessive influx of money,” he said.