Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More Wise Words from Jimmy Carter

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

More Wise Words from Jimmy Carter

Article excerpt

JIMMY CARTER, who moved the Mideast peace process dramatically forward at Camp David when he was president, now is urging the United States to take "more forceful action for peace" to bring the Israelis and Palestinians together. Specifically, he argues that one "persuasive factor" in dealing with Ariel Sharon is "approximately $10 million daily in American aid to Israel."

Using the cutting off of US aid as leverage in dealing with Israel? That idea isn't likely to get very far in the US political world, where the Jewish community is so influential. Indeed, Colin Powell was seen on TV only a few hours after the Carter words had appeared in a New York Times article, making it clear that this was a course of action that this administration wasn't going to pursue.

So once again Jimmy Carter has jumped into the Mideast fray. Last August, he caused a stir by criticizing President Bush for his hands- off relations with the Mideast at the time and, in particular, his failure to demand the removal of Israeli settlements on the West Bank.

Mr. Carter sees himself as "even handed" in his view of how a fair solution in the Mideast should be reached. He says he backs UN resolutions whose basic premises are withdrawal of Israelis from Palestinian lands in exchange for full acceptance of Israel and Israel's right to live in peace.

Carter sees himself as being neutral in the Mideast controversy. And his peace achievement at Camp David 24 years ago has given him credentials as an effective peace negotiator. But his continual call for the Israelis to end their settlements on the West Bank (or even pull back from all or some of their settlements) doesn't win him any popularity in Israel or in the American Jewish community.

Carter's brilliant "bicycle riding" diplomacy, which brought Israel's Menachem Begin and Egypt's Anwar Sadat into a historic agreement at Camp David, did find approval in both Israel and Palestinian camps. But he was soon to sit down with journalists in a session where his words - or alleged words - made many Jews furious.

I was at a small dinner party with President Carter and his wife, Rosalynn. …

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