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06-15-2009, 10:12 PM
Jimmy Carter: PM created obstacles to peace

Former US president Jimmy Carter accused Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of placing "several obstacles on the road to peace" on Monday, addressing the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee one day after Netanyahu laid out his policy during an internationally-televised speech.

"In my opinion, Netanyahu brought up several obstacles to peace in his speech that others before him have not placed," Carter, who is visiting Israel as part of a larger Middle East tour, told the committee. "He insists on settlement expansion and demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, even though 20% of Israel's citizens are not Jewish."

Carter nevertheless stressed that the differences between US President Barack Obama and Netanyahu could be overcome. "I have to say that in spite of the differences between my president, Barack Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu, greater differences existed between myself and then-prime minister Begin," he said.

Carter also discussed the Arab peace initiative, emphasizing that he saw it as a "very important first step on the way to regional peace" and that it can be seen as a supporting column for any regional agreement. He emphasized that he did not see any key differences between it and the plans presented by the Obama administration and the Quartet, which, in his words, all called for "a withdrawal from the conquered territories and giving full autonomy to the Palestinians."