Carter: Netanyahu faces clash with Obama over peace process
Former U.S. president tells Haaretz Obama won't change position on settlement freeze, Palestinian statehood.
A day before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was to deliver what has been described as a key policy speech at Bar-Ilan University, former U.S. president Jimmy Carter told Haaretz in an exclusive interview on Saturday that President Barack Obama will not change his position on the two-state solution and Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
Carter added that Israel and the United States are on a collision course if Israel refuses to comply on these two issues. (Click here to read the full interview)
Carter said Obama had "committed to a worldwide audience" to bring about a complete stop to settlements, which he called "the key obstacle to any peace agreements."
Carter also said he was against allowing the expansion of some settlements to accommodate natural growth, and that during his term settlements were viewed as "illegal and an obstacle to peace. Absolutely ... I never changed my opinion about that."
"Begin promised me - and Sadat - very clearly that there would be no more settlement building during the time of peace talks," Carter said. "It wasn't easy to get it, but Begin made that commitment. Shortly after we left Camp David, Begin maintained that his presumption was that peace talks would be over in three months.
"Obama promised as best as he can to have a comprehensive peace before the end of his term, 2012. One thing we have in common is that I started working on Mideast peace on my first day in office, even before. He has promised me and others during his campaign that he would do that. He has kept that promise. That's a dramatic difference between the Clinton and the Bush administrations and Obama's."
When asked what Carter would suggest Netanyahu say in his speech at Bar-Ilan University on Sunday evening, the former president replied: "To me, the most grievous circumstance is the maltreatment of the people in Gaza, who are literally starving and have no hope at this time.
"According to the UN 41,000 of their homes have been either severely damaged or destroyed. And for five months they haven't gotten a single sack of cement, or single sheet of plaster. They're being treated like savages. The alleviation of their plight to some means I think would be the most important the Israeli PM could do."