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The Difference Between Carter and Obama

The Palestinians are rounding up the usual suspects as they prepare for their symbolic victory at the United Nations next week. Among those supporting the Palestinian Authority effort to gain recognition of independence without making peace with Israel is former President Jimmy Carter. Carter has been among the most consistent foes of Israel during his decades as the country’s most insufferable ex-president, so it is no surprise he would back a tactic whose purpose is to evade peace talks rather than promote them.

But the interesting thing about Carter’s support for this effort to destroy an already moribund peace process is he accompanied it with a stinging rebuke for the Obama administration. According to Carter, he wouldn’t be backing the PA initiative if Obama had put forward his own Middle East peace plan that would have forced Israel to make unilateral concessions. That even Obama, whose hostility to Israel’s government is highly reminiscent of Carter’s own time in the White House, refused to go down that route shows not only the difference between the two presidents but also the way the Palestinians have alienated an administration that was prepared to go a long way in their direction.

It is highly ironic Carter would blast Obama for being insufficiently supportive of the Palestinians, because the latter prioritized the peace process throughout his administration. Ignoring the evidence PA leader Mahmoud Abbas had no intention of ever signing a peace deal, Obama plunged into the negotiations picking fights with Israel and showing a clear preference for the Palestinian position. But despite Obama’s attacks on Israel’s positions on settlements and Jerusalem, Abbas refused to rejoin the negotiations. Even after the president ambushed Netanyahu in May with his proposal that the 1967 lines be the basis for talks, Abbas still wouldn’t budge.

Had Abbas been willing to make peace, he would have found Obama a useful ally who had little love for Israel. Obama did everything but present a U.S. dictat for peace in order to please the Palestinians, but Abbas never had any intention of negotiating. As the New York Times noted last weekend, the Obama-Abbas spat has been something of a lovers’ quarrel. Having been thoroughly embarrassed by the Palestinians, Obama has stayed aloof from diplomacy on the conflict in recent months.

While the administration’s attitude toward the peace process has been wrongheaded and prejudiced against Israel, it must still be said its goal was peace, even if they sought to achieve it on terms disadvantageous and unfair to the Jewish state. Carter is not interested in creating actual peace as much as he is in branding Israel as a pariah state. Like the Palestinians, he doesn’t want a negotiated settlement, but the imposition of a solution on Israel that would undercut its security as well as abrogate Jewish rights.

It speaks volumes about the Palestinians that they have so alienated a man like Obama who arrived in office hoping to support them against Israel. The president they want is someone like Carter, who would trash altogether the U.S. alliance with Israel. As bad as the Obama presidency has been for the Jewish state, Carter is living proof there are worse foes for Israel than the man living in the White House.



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