Former President Jimmy Carter can’t make up his mind. One day he bashes Israel because he believes the Jewish state did not live up to its Camp David obligations. The next day—literally—he says he is pleased that “not a word” of the Camp David treaty has been violated.
Thus, on Monday, Nov. 26, Carter had the following exchange with Terry Gross of National Public Radio’s “Fresh Air“:
GROSS: My impression from the book is that there is parts of the Camp David agreement that you think Israel has failed to follow. Am I right?
Pres. CARTER: Yeah. That’s correct.
GROSS: What are they, and I’m wondering too how that affects your reaction to Israel, if you are, like, personally disappointed in Israel because you negotiated these peace talks and you think Israel hasn’t completely complied with them
Pres. CARTER: Well, at Camp David, Menahem Begin, prime minister of Israel, agreed to withdraw the political and military forces of Israel from the occupied territories, and the Israeli Knesset, the parliament, approved this commitment. Menahem Begin also signed the Camp David Accords, which include specifically United Nations Resolution 242. And one of the phrases in there confirms the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force and also requires Israel to withdraw from occupied territories. Those commitments, freely made by Prime Minister Begin and approved by the Israel government at the time, have not been honored, and instead the Israelis have continued to occupy additional Palestinian land and, in effect, confiscated it and then to colonize it and then to connect those isolated more than 200 settlements with each other and with Jerusalem. All providing obstacles to any sort of peace process unless will withdraw from those territories. So in a number of ways, Israel has defaulted on the Camp David Accords.
The one major thing, however, that Israel did, that’s very gratifying to me, was to honor their commitment to withdraw from Egyptian territory. Israel was occupying, as you know, the Sinai region, all the way up to the Suez Canal. Israel did indeed withdraw from that territory within two years after the peace treaty was consummated.
GROSS:So do you feel like personally frustrated with Israel because you think they haven’t followed Camp David?
Pres. CARTER: Well, I would personally, obviously, prefer that both sides complied with the agreement that I helped negotiate, yes. And I am frustrated with Israel that they haven’t done so. But to be repetitive on your program–I hope you don’t mind–this action by the Israelis to violate the agreement is a minority of Israelis, consistently. Down through the decades, public opinion polls have shown that a majority of Israeli citizens themselves favor the withdrawal from Palestinian territory in exchange for peace. It’s a minority that has violated that, and this minority has come into power, overwhelmingly, after the assassination of Prime Minister Rabin, and so far they are prevailing.
The next day, on Tuesday, Nov. 27, during his appearance on “Good Morning America,” Carter tells host Robin Roberts:
And I think the most important step toward peace for Israel was when I negotiated a peace treaty between Israel and Egypt in 1979, and not a word of that peace treaty has been violated. That’s the first major step toward that process.
It’s entirely unclear what accounts for Carter’s complete turnabout within the space of one day. Whatever the reason, the self-contradiction is yet another reason why Carter can’t be taken seriously when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.