REVIVAL OF AN OBJECTIVE: JIMMY CARTER, 1977-1981
I raised the question . . . whether we should in fact be pushing so hard for an Egyptian-Israeli treaty if it is our intention to resolve also the West Bank issue. Once such a treaty is signed we will have less leverage.
Israel benefited greatly from its assocation with the United States during the Carter presidency. Total U.S. aid allocated to Jerusalem during the period soared to over $10.6 billion, some $360 million more than all U.S. aid extended to the Jewish state since 1948. 1 Yet Jimmy Carter was destined to leave office with the dubious distinction of being the U.S. president whose policies and intentions Israel had most distrusted since its birth.
Carter entered the White House determined to work for a comprehensive Middle East peace. Despite the admiration and protectiveness he felt for Israel -- largely products of his Southern Baptist religious convictions -- Carter revived the idea that the pursuit of peace should center on arranging the return of most of the occupied lands for Arab political concessions. Moreover, he recognized Palestinian political consciousness as a reality that demanded efforts to involve the Palestinians in the determination of their future.
Carter's approach inevitably placed him in conflict with dominant Israeli preferences. In the end, he saw his hopes for comprehensive peace wither. Although the 1979 Egyptian-Israeli peace was achieved with significant help from the United States, it caused both hope and concern in Washington: hope that it might provide a viable basis for building comprehensive peace; concern that it might not.