Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter, who is on a weeklong visit to Israel, the West Bank and Gaza, said Monday that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Sunday foreign policy speech obstructed Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts. Carter listed what he called several “hurdles” in Netanyahu’s speech, which included the commitment to a unified Jerusalem, settlement expansion and a demand that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
He continued by warning that the U.S. and Israeli governments were on a “collision course” if Israel continues settlement expansion, a policy reaffirmed by Mr. Carter as illegal under international law and an underlying obstacle to the peace process. While in the West Bank, Carter said with reference to the Israeli settlement bloc Gush Etzion that not all of the West Bank needed to become part of a future Palestinian state, and that at least half of the Jews in the region could remain in their homes.
While highly critical of Netanyahu’s foreign policy positions, Carter pointed out that he and former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin faced larger discrepancies and still managed to reach a peace agreement with Egypt.