|Jimmy Carter: "Israelis' Policy Is to Confiscate Palestinian Territory"
Israel and Gaza are again attacking each other, Syria is descending into civil war, four American diplomats killed in Libya: the Middle East is more fragile than ever. "Both sides should cease all hostilities," says former US President Jimmy Carter. "Israel should end its blockade of Gaza, and Western countries should work to facilitate reconciliation between Hamas and their Palestinian rival, Fatah. As long as Gaza remains isolated, the situation in and around Gaza will remain volatile."
Israel's leaders don't want a Palestinian state, Carter tells Metro in an exclusive interview with Metro. Carter, who still conducts international negotiations and is now a member The Elders, won the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize. He just returned from a visit to the Middle East.
The chances of a Palestinian state are fading. Whose job is it to fix this situation?
The peace process has been pretty well dormant for the past three years. Of course, in the past we played a key role in being the mediator and conveyer of meetings, but that's not happening either. The first priority would be for the Israelis and Palestinians to take the initiative. But the Israelis have continued with their massive settlement program in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, and the Palestinians say they won't negotiate as long as Israel is continuing to take over their territory, so there's deadlock. The United States is looked upon by the rest of the international community as the primary interlocutor, so the European Union members don't take action. As a result, there's no intermediary who can move things forward and initiate peace talks.
President Obama says he supports a Palestinian state, but even so there's a deadlock. Does it take even more than the support of a US President to get a Palestinian state?
I think the big change is that the Israeli leaders have decided to abandon the two-state solution. Their policy now is to confiscate Palestinian territory, and they've announced publicly that it the Palestinians have to recognize not just Israel but Israel as a Jewish state, even though 20% of the Israeli community are non-Jews. Netanyahu has also decided that even the Jordan valley has to be under Israeli control. So, those factors indicate quite clearly that Netanyahu has decided that the two-state solution is not what he wants. He wants what is being called Greater Israel, Eretz Israel. That's a new development, and I think everyone recognizes this.
The Arab Spring had worldwide support. Now four diplomats have been killed and the region is considered less safe. Are dictators sometimes better than democracy?
A: I don't think so at all. For example, the Egyptian people had a very safe series of elections. As the Carter Center, we monitored several of these elections, and have also monitored the elections in Tunisia and Libya. I don't think there's any doubt that the termination of the dictators has been a major beneficial development. The outside world just tends to be too impatient. The United States declared our independence from Britain in 1776, and it wasn't until 12 years later that we had a constitution. Egypt is going to have a constitution within a year of the President assuming power.