Carter Defends Mideast Record
Bemoans lack of ‘real progress’ since 1979
Angrily responding to an article in the prior issue of Foreign Policy, former President Jimmy Carter—who helped orchestrate the Camp David agreement with Egypt, and in recent years has emerged as an especially staunch critic of Israel—offers this apologia pro vita sua regarding his presidency’s Israel policy:
There was no pressure on me to launch a peace initiative in the Middle East, but I did so from my first days in office. I realized that there had been four wars against Israel during the preceding quarter-century, with Egypt being the only Arab force that was strong enough to be a real threat. At Camp David and during the following weeks, we negotiated a resolution to the Palestinian issue and a treaty of peace early in 1979 between Egypt and Israel. Although written commitments to the Palestinians have not been honored, not a word of the peace treaty has been broken. Tragically, there has been little if any real progress since that time.
In writing that final sentence, Carter must not be including Israel’s similar peace deal with Jordan, in 1993. Still, and if nothing else, the following is true: at no time since 1979, at the least, has there been greater international consensus and hope for an independent Palestinian state. If Carter thinks that shouldn’t count as “real progress,” then I hope his objection is merely a semantic one.