Jimmy Carter admitted yesterday that he did not consult Dennis Ross' book, The Missing Peace, before writing his own volume on the Arab-Israel conflict.
"I've never seen Dennis Ross' book. I'm not knocking it, I'm sure it's a very good book," Carter said on CNN.
Which begs the question: Why not?
As chief Middle East peace negotiator under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Ambassador Ross knows perhaps more than anyone else the details of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks at the end of 2000a topic discussed by Carter in recent interviews and his new book. The Missing Peace is described by Bill Clinton as "the definitive" account of those complicated negotiations, and has garnered praise from four past US secretaries of state.
In other words, Ross' book is required reading for anyone who wants to understandlet alone write a credible book aboutthe Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations of late 2000.
But amazingly, Carter chose to ignore this authoritative account of what transpired, and instead offered an description of the peace negotiations completely at odds with the historical record by claiming Israel did not accept Clinton's proposals for a final settlement of the conflict.
On the Dec. 8 episode of CNN's The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer, Ross directly refuted Carter's claims:
BLITZER: Who is right, Jimmy Carter or Bill Clinton on this question which is so relevant as to whether or not the Israelis at Camp David at the end of the Bill Clinton administration accepted the proposals the U.S. put forward?
ROSS: The answer is President Clinton. The Israelis said yes to this twice, first at Camp David, there were a set of proposals that were put on the table that they accepted. And then were the Clinton parameters, the Clinton ideas which were presented in December, their government, meaning the cabinet actually voted it. You can go back and check it, December 27th the year 2000, the cabinet voted to approve the Clinton proposal, the Clinton ideas. So this is -- this is a matter of record. This is not a matter of interpretation.
BLITZER: So you're saying Jimmy Carter is flat wrong.
ROSS: On this issue, he's wrong.
Not only did Carter ignore the authoritative source on what transpired at the Camp David negotiations, he apparently also didn't bother to consult news reports from the era. On Dec. 28, 2000, the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Chicago Tribune and others all reported on the Israeli cabinet's acceptance of Clinton's parameters as a basis for discussion.