Sunday, February 15, 2009

From A Carter Interview

Jimmy Carter interviewed by Akiba Eldar:

Do you believe it's also an American blunder that, in spite of U.S. policy and warnings and messages, the settlements kept growing and they keep growing actually as we speak?

"That's true. When I first visited the West Bank and the Golan Heights in 1973, I think there were only 1,500 Jewish settlers in the occupied territories. I think that [the expansion] happened particularly in the last 16 years. George Bush, Sr. was very strict in deterring, I think, then-prime minister [Yitzhak] Shamir from building settlements, and even withheld several hundred million dollars in U.S. aid from Israel because of a large settlement between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. And Shamir backed down because of that. But under president [Bill] Clinton and president George W. Bush, the settlements have not been deterred by influence from the United States, which is a mistake."

Carter is asked whether, after the traumatic evacuation of Gush Katif, it would be possible to remove approximately 120,000-130,000 settlers from the West Bank, and whether NATO countries will go along with his proposal to send forces there.

He says he definitely believes that, within the context of a peace agreement, Israel will evacuate settlements. He also does not discount the possibility that U.S. forces could "assure that during the transition period, there wouldn't be any threats to Israel from Palestinians or to Palestinians from Israel."

Happy Is He Who Believes.

But don't bet on it.

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