Skip to comments.Jimmy Carter's Disingenuous Diplomacy
Posted on 12/04/2006 4:22:13 PM PST by SJackson
Jimmy Cartersnew book Palestine Peace Not Apartheid should, by all rights, be headed for the remainder bin. Martin Peretz, editor-in-chief of The New Republic, calls it a tendentious, dishonest and stupid book. Norman Finkelstein, one of Israels harshest critics, admits the book is filled with errors small and large, as well as tendentious and untenable interpretations. There is not a single blurb on the book.
But while it may be tendentious, dishonest, stupid, and filled with errors and untenable interpretations, it could still have an impact. Carter says hes going to promote [it] pretty widely, so his tendentious and erroneous assertions may ripple into the public consciousness.
Responsible people will ignore Carters attempt to tar and feather Israel with the word apartheid. Israel is the only country in the Middle East where Jews and Arabs live together in peace a country where Arabs not only vote but serve in the Knesset. But Carter has done something even worse in his book: He egregiously misstates both the relevant diplomatic history and the long-standing U.S. diplomatic position, and then he blames Israel for not complying with it demonizing Israel even more insidiously.
Carter, Resolution 242 and the Road Map
At the end of his book, Carter has a chapter in which he issues his plan for peace. The chapter includes a discussion of the alleged requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 242 and the Quartets Road Map. Carter states that (emphasis added, here and in all following quotes):
The unwavering official policy of the United States since Israel became a state has been that its borders must coincide with those prevailing from 1949 until 1967 (unless modified by mutually agreeable land swaps), specified in the unanimously adopted U.N. Resolution 242, which mandates Israels withdrawal from occupied territories. . . . [A]s a member of the International Quartet that includes Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union, America supports the Roadmap for Peace, which espouses exactly the same requirements.
A reader would receive the impression from that paragraph that the 1967 borders are specified in Resolution 242 as Israels final borders (perhaps with minor adjustments compensated by land swaps), that the Road Map says the same thing, and that this has been unwavering U.S. policy. All of that, as we will demonstrate, is false.
Carters false impression is reinforced by the final paragraphs in his book, where he asserts that peace will come only upon Israels Withdrawal to the 1967 border as specified in U.N. Resolution 242 and as promised in the Camp David Accords and the Oslo Agreement and prescribed in the Roadmap of the International Quartet.
Carter continually refers to the 1967 borders as Israels legal borders. He concludes that the bottom line is Israel must comply with the Road Map and with official American policy by accepting its legal  borders. In exchange, he says, all Arab neighbors must pledge to honor Israels right to live in peace.
Even Charlie Brown wouldnt kick that football. Abba Eban famously called the 1967 lines Auschwitz borders, and he did so for a reason: they are indefensible, and it was precisely their indefensibility that provoked Arab aggression against Israel in the first place.
Nor could a pledge of peace be enforced by U.S. or NATO troops (much less UN ones), once Israel moved to indefensible borders and it would be unreasonable to expect the U.S. or NATO to commit troops to defend such borders (even assuming an Israeli willingness to place its defense into the hands of others).
But there is an even more fundamental objection to Carters plan. Contrary to his repeated assertions about Resolution 242 and the Road Map:
The 1967 borders are not specified as Israels legal borders in Resolution 242.
Such borders are neither espoused nor required nor prescribed in the Road Map.
It has never been unwavering U.S. policy that Israels final borders must coincide with the 1967 borders, nor that changes in them be minor, nor that any changes be compensated with land swaps.
U.S. policy both in the past and today contemplates that Israels borders will be where Israels security requires, not the place from which the prior war commenced and the U.S. has officially stated that any Palestinian expectation to the contrary is unrealistic.
The terms of Resolution 242 do not provide for land for peace, much less land for [a pledge of] peace. Instead, Resolution 242 envisions that land be exchanged for secure boundaries (since such boundaries are the only practical guarantee of peace). Moreover, the drafters of Resolution 242 recognized the 1967 borders were not secure.
The Road Map took this one step further. It did not envision a simultaneous exchange of land for secure borders, but rather a phased-in peace, starting with the dismantlement of terrorist infrastructure (Phase I), followed by a provisional state (Phase II), followed by final status negotiations on borders (Phase III). It did not require that Israel return to the 1967 borders, either at the beginning or the end of that process.
History of U.S. Policy on Israels Borders
Since Carter provides no footnotes in his book, he provides no support for the alleged unwavering official policy of the United States that he asserts requires an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders.
By reviewing published sources, however, it is possible to trace a straight line from (a) President Lyndon Johnsons policy in 1967 underlying Resolution 242, to (b) President George W. Bushs April 14, 2004 letter to Israel and the picture that emerges directly contradicts Carters assertion.
Resolution 242, adopted November 22, 1967, includes as one of its principles the [w]ithdrawal of Israeli armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict as part of a permanent settlement of the Middle East dispute. But it does not require withdrawal from all the territories, nor does it mention the 1967 boundaries. On the contrary, it calls for recognition of secure boundaries that will enable Israel to live free from threats or acts of force.
The omission of the word all or the from Resolution 242 was neither accidental nor inadvertent, nor the result of imprecise wording. The words all and the were proposed and rejected in 1967, after being considered at the highest governmental levels.
As Dore Gold, Israels former UN ambassador, has explained, President Lyndon Baines Johnson himself decided that it was important to stick to this phraseology, despite the pressure from the Soviet premier, Alexei Kosygin, who had sought to incorporate stricter additional language requiring a full Israel withdrawal.
Gold notes that Kosygin had written to Johnson on November 21, 1967, requesting that the resolution include the word the before the word territories, to indicate that a complete Israeli withdrawal was required. But Johnson refused the Soviet request. The Soviet deputy foreign minister likewise tried to insert the word all before territories, but was rebuffed.
The meaning of Resolution 242 in view of the fact that heads of state were involved in its drafting and the words all and the were purposely omitted from the resolution was, according to Gold, absolutely clear to those involved in the drafting process:
Joseph P. Sisco, who would serve as the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs, commented on Resolution 242 during a Meet the Press interview some years later: I was engaged in the negotiation for months of that resolution. That resolution did not say total withdrawal.
George Brown, the British foreign secretary in 1967, summarized Resolution 242 as follows: The proposal said, Israel will withdraw from territories that were occupied, not from the territories, which means Israel will not withdraw from all the territories. Gold notes that both President Johnson and Ambassador Arthur Goldberg made other contemporaneous statements supporting that reading of Resolution 242:
President Johnsons insistence on protecting the territorial flexibility of Resolution 242 could be traced to his statements made on June 19, 1967, in the immediate wake of the Six-Day War. In fact, Johnsondeclared that an immediate return to the situation as it was on June 4, before the outbreak of hostilities, was not a prescription for peace, but for renewed hostilities. He stated that the old truce lines had been fragile and violated. . . .
Ambassador Goldberg would additionally note sometime later another aspect of the Johnson administrations policy that was reflected in the language of its UN proposals: Resolution 242 in no way refers to Jerusalem, and this omission was deliberate.
This policy was also reflected in statements by President Ronald Reagan and Secretary of State George Shultz. Reagan himself stated in his September 1, 1982 address that became known as the Reagan Plan: In the pre-1967 borders, Israel was barely ten miles wide at its narrowest point. The bulk of Israels population lived within artillery range of hostile armies. I am not about to ask Israel to live that way again. . . . .
Shultz was even more explicit about what this meant during a September 1988 address: Israel will never negotiate from or return to the 1967 borders.
In the April 14, 2004 letter from President George W. Bush to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, the United States reiterated Israels right to secure and defensible borders, and expressly noted that a return to the 1967 borders was unrealistic. The letter stated that:
The United States reiterates its steadfast commitment to Israels security, including secure, defensible borders, and to preserve and strengthen Israels capability to deter and defend itself, by itself, against any threat or possible combination of threats .In light of new realities on the ground, including already existing major Israeli population centers, it is unrealistic to expect that the outcome of final status negotiations will be a full and complete return to the armistice lines of 1949.
On June 23-24, 2004, the U.S. Senate and House passed Concurrent Resolution 460 stating that each body strongly endorses the principles articulated by President Bush in his letter dated April 14, 2004 to Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon expressly referencing the portions of the letter dealing with Israels borders.
U.S. Position vs. Jimmy Carters Plan
The concept of secure, defensible borders differs significantly from the simplistic land for [a pledge of] peace doctrine underlying the Geneva Accord, which Jimmy Carter wanted to substitute for the Road Map back in 2003 (and in his book today). The Geneva Accord presumes that a return to the 1967 borders, in exchange for a peace agreement, would produce peace. In contrast, secure, defensible borders recognizes that an enforceable peace agreement depends on borders Israel can defend on its own.
Defensible borders are also an important American interest, since the U.S. would not want to obligate itself to defend indefensible borders; such borders are themselves an invitation to the aggression supposedly foresworn in a peace agreement.
Thus Israeli settlements that command the high ground around Jerusalem (such as Maale Adumim) or provide strategic locations in the West Bank (such as Ariel) are a critical part of any ultimate peace agreement, because they are essential to defensible borders. Such settlements do not preclude a contiguous Palestinian state; but they preclude it from serving as a staging area for a new war.
Given the history of Resolution 242 the manner in which it was negotiated, the words that do and do not appear in it, and the U.S. statements about it since it is impossible to assert, as Carterrepeatedly does, that the resolution contemplates (much less requires) a return by Israel to its indefensible 1967 borders, or that Israel is preventing peace by insisting on defensible borders as a part of any peace agreement.
Carters book never mentions, much less discusses, the April 14, 2004 letter that assured Israel of the U.S. commitment to secure, defensible borders; promised the U.S. would not support any plan other than the three-phase Road Map; and placed particular emphasis on Palestinian compliance with Phase I as a condition of peace.
In a June 27, 2005 appearance before the American Enterprise Institute, Dore Goldnoted that the emphasis in the April 14, 2004 letter on secure and defensible borders was not a revolutionary break in the foreign policy of the United States or in U.S.-Israeli relations, but actually laid at the heart of a consensus that existed for many years among Israeli and American leaders. I just want to run you through this becausemany people have either forgotten it or never knew it.
One would never have thought that among the people who have either forgotten it or never knew it would be a former president of the United States.
Carter seeks to ignore both Phase I and Phase II of the Road Map, to move instead immediately to Phase III, and to substitute a withdrawal to the 1967 borders for the secure and defensible borders that Resolution 242 envisions and that the April 14, 2004 letter promises and then Carter repeatedly castigates Israel for its alleged failure to comply with Resolution 242, the Road Map and a specious unwavering U.S. policy that Carter has created himself.
It is hard to imagine a more disingenuous effort than the one Carter has embarked on with his book but it is of a piece with his reprehensible characterization of Israel as an apartheid state.
Norman Finkelstein, one of Israels harshest critics, admits the book is filled with errors small and large, as well as tendentious and untenable interpretations.
Wow, Carter outdid Finkelstein, per Finkelstein, that's something to be proud of!
Carter's senile. Does anyone believe he writes his own book?
This statement should be repeated time and time again for it is the gospel truth!
I don't know how Jimma' could be writing a book while being so busy putting his head between his legs and then scrutinizing a hole in the ground trying to determine which is what....
Could you immagine if this guy was the Leader of the UN?
Carter isnt senile. He is bitter, he is just plain nasty.
This man who once apologised for having bad thoughts when he read a Playboy magazine is guilty of a far worse sin than getting horny looking at the ladies pictures. He is guilty of jealousy, he holds bad thoughts towards others,He means to hurt George Bush in any way he can. His own Presidency was so bad he feels he can make himself look good by bad mouthing others.
We have all seen people like this, we all know of people who bad mouth others becasue they themselves are lacking.
Its too bad, we all thought Jimmy carter was a horrible but honest President, Now we watch as he creates himself a lagacy of hate. He could have gone down in history as perahps the worst President ever, but a man of honor. Now he sells that honor to poison the Administration of another President. In reality he isnt hurting anyone but himself . Noe one pays much attention to him anyway exceptthe corrupt Media, that slobbers over any foe of President Bush.
I can at times have a vivid imagination, however not THAT vivid.
If he were to be in a position of power though, the U.N. would be the closest possibility for him considering the disarray the U.N. is in these days.
Ever read any of Jimmy's poetry?
The man is no friend of Israel, and you have to wonder if he's a friend of the United States.
Carter is nothing if not offensive. More rubbish for the anti-Israel crowd.
I used to think Jimmy was just a bitter old man grousing over his failed Presidency. Now however, he is a glorious example of irrevocable insanity.
Ordinarily he was insane, but he had lucid moments when he was merely stupid.
Heinrich Heine (1797 - 1856)