Jimmy Carter’s latest newspaper commentary, “Stop the Band-Aid Treatment; We Need Policies for a Real, Lasting Middle East Peace” (Washington Post, August 1) features repeated errors of fact. It echoes his “Israel’s new plan: A land grab” (USA Today, May 16) and March 20 and March 17 commentaries in The Guardian (U.K.) and Ha’aretz, respectively. Only Carter’s “celebrity” status as an ex-president can account for their publication.
1) Carter claims “incremental unilateral withdrawals” by Israel would leave Palestinian Arabs with “their remnant territories reduced to little more than human dumping grounds ….”
In fact, if Israel, having already left the Gaza Strip, withdraws inside the planned route of its West Bank security barrier, the Arabs would retain 100 percent of the Strip and 92 percent of Judea and Samaria – about what the United States, Europeans, Egyptians and Saudis criticized the Palestinian Authority for rejecting when it was offered at Camp David in 2000.
2) Carter alleges that the security barrier is “provocative” and “fails to bring safety or stability.”
In truth, the barrier has contributed to a dramatic drop in “successful” terrorist attacks from the West Bank, provokes mostly those – including Hamas (Islamic Resistance Movement), Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades of Fatah – who’d rather Israel didn’t defend itself effectively. It contributes directly to the stability of Israel and (by undercutting radical Palestinian groups) of Jordan and indirectly to stability for West Bank Arabs.
3) He refers, as in his USA Today screed, to “Israel’s official pre-1967 borders ….”
Israel’s pre-’67 West Bank boundary was not an “official border” but the temporary 1949 armistice lines. Israel had offered to make them official, but the Arab states refused so as not to imply recognition of Israel’s legitimacy in any borders. The need for permanent borders was acknowledged in U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 (1967), which does not call for Israeli withdrawal from all the land gained in the Six-Day War but rather new, “secure and recognized boundaries ….” Carter, challenged on this point after his USA Today commentary, claimed – contrary to the diplomatic record – that this was a subjective “difference of opinion.”
4) The ex-president declares that “Israel should withdraw from all Lebanese territory, including Shebaa Farms ….”
The United Nations confirmed in June, 2000 that Israel had withdrawn from all Lebanese territory. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan declared Lebanon’s claim to the area as “not valid.” U.N. Security Council Resolution 1583 (2005), among other things, reiterated that Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanese territory was complete. In April, 2006, the United Nations noted that Shebaa Farms was part of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights, taken from Syria, not Lebanon. The United Nations implicitly recognized that Hezbollah used the claim that Shebaa Farms was “Israeli-occupied Lebanon” as a pretext to continue “armed resistance.”
5) Carter claims “Israel belatedly announced, but did not carry out, a two-day cessation in bombing Lebanon ….”
This is pure misrepresentation. Israel announced, and implemented as far as possible, a bombing halt to permit civilians to flee battle zones and to allow easier entry for humanitarian aid shipments, but said it would continue air support for ground attacks against Hezbollah, as well as to stop an imminent attack from Hezbollah.
6) Carter charges that “there will be no substantive and permanent peace for any peoples in this troubled region as long as Israel is violating key U.N. resolutions, official American policy and the international ‘road map’ for peace by occupying Arab lands and oppressing the Palestinians.”
There’s Holocaust revisionism and Middle East revisionism, and Carter wallows in the latter.
Israel doesn’t oppress the Palestinian Arabs (the standard of living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip grew markedly from 1967 until the first intifada in 1987, and again after the 1993 start of the Oslo process until the second intifada in 2000); it’s been seeking to separate from them, yet they follow it with suicide bombs and rockets; Israel has reiterated its readiness to implement the “road map” – just as soon as the Palestinians fulfill their requirement to begin to halt terrorism.
7) Carter claims that “leaders on both sides ignore strong majorities that crave peace, allowing extremist-led violence to preempt all opportunities for building a political consensus.”
Israeli majorities supported their leaders attempts to negotiate peace, including at the Madrid conference in 1991, in the Oslo process after 1993, and attempts to reach peace unilaterally, including the 2005 withdrawal from Gaza and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s 2006 campaign pledge to begin withdrawing from much of the West Bank. The extremism – rejectionism – has come from the Arab side, and includes the Palestinians’ election of Hamas to a legislative majority last January. There is no solid evidence of a Palestinian Arab majority for a West Bank and Gaza Strip state, at peace with Israel as a Jewish state, without a so-called “right of return” for millions of Arabs to Israel rather than their new Palestinian state.