Jimmy Carter's voice and manner are calculated to communicate an affable, elderly sage. The only part that is true is that he is elderly.
Carter, the 39th President of the United States, is 92 years old. A Sunday school teacher at Maranatha Baptist Church in Plains, Georgia, he is also an "Elder Emeritus" of a 12-member, London-based group called The Elders. Carter, who stepped down from active membership last June, explemifies the patronizing manner of The Elder's self-appointed role as a kind of Illuminati for global morality.
Like The Elders, Carter's demeanor is genteel. But vis-a-vis Israel, at least, his affectation is a thin velvet sheath cloaking a stiletto. The fabric is soft, but the blade beneath is rigid and sharp, all the more deadly for its deceptive attire.
The latest example Carter's genteel animus was published in the New York Times on Monday. In an Op-Ed titled, America Must Recognize Palestine, Carter made an open appeal for US President Barack Obama to "grant diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine" before his term expires in seven weeks, on 20 January 2017.
The essence of Carter's argument, including its sage-like tone, is that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is "in grave doubt." The only way to rescue this solution, he says, is to officially recognize Palestine as a sovereign nation. According to the former President, this will do two things. It will "make it easier" for all member-states of the United Nations to also recognize Palestine as a sovereign state. And it will "clear the way for a [UN] Security Council resolution laying out the parameters for resolving the conflict."
Security Council resolutions are legally binding on all member states of the United Nations.
In other words, Carter proposes the un-negotiated, unilateral creation of a Palestinian state by a United Nations fiat. Once this is done, according to Carter's proposal, Israel and Palestine could negotiate individual cases of Jewish settlements in the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria. And while the two sovereign nations work out how to get along, both would be policed by a benevolent "peacekeeping force under the auspices of the United Nations."
There are many flaws in Carter's New York Times appeal. Here are three.
FIRST, the entirety of Judea and Samaria, the biblical heartland of Israel, are not "occupied territories." Not now, anyway. They were illegally occupied from 1948 until 1967. By Jordan. The name, "West Bank," is an open declaration of that occupation, an illegal land grab that began in 1948, one day after Israel declared its formation as a nation-state in accordance with International Law. On that day, and in contravention of International Law, Jordan expanded its sunset boundary far beyond Jordan River's western bank. When, in 1967, Israel miraculously defeated a five-nation coalition force to invade the Jewish State, it won back control of Judea and Samaria. It is land that includes Jerusalem's Old City, King David's capital cities (Jerusalem and Hebron), the Mount of Olives, cities of the Bible, the mountain range where Abraham stood when God gave him the land as an permanent inheritance, and Shiloh where God's Presence was uniquely localized in the Ark of the Covenant in the Tabernacle's Holy of Holies.
After Israel defeated its enemies in 1967, Israel, Palestinians and the world came to an agreement; several of them. What everyone agreed, in the end, is that the land recovered by Israel, Judea and Samaria, were contested territories subject to a negotiated settlement between the sovereign state of Israel and its fifth column opponents. The Oslo Accords and eventually the Roadmap for Peace enshrined a single framework for a negotiated settlement between Israel and that portion of Arabs within who oppose it: a two-state solution.
A SECOND FLAW in Carter's argument is that Palestinians no longer want a two-state solution. In countless formats and venues, the consensus of Palestinian leadership along with most (but not all) of their constituents is to fight for a one-state solution. In this "solution," Arabs would rule in every part of the land, gaining power by a "democratic" process achieved by elections in which everyone in the world who self-identifies as Palestinian would be qualified to vote. The envisioned result is an internationally accepted state in which legal recrimination would be imposed on Jews for their "theft" in 1948. In essence, the prevaling vision of Palestinians today is for a single state that scours the nation of any and all Jewish identification. Or inhabitants.
For its part, Israel too, at least for now, has given up on the prospect of a two-state solution. One reason it has given up is because the Palestinians Territories have become a Wild West, or Wild West Bank, if you will.
Every Palestinian knows there is no leadership. Hamas claims authority over Palestinians in Gaza but is wrestling with numerous groups who, in essence, contend that Hamas, sworn to Israel's destruction, is too soft. As for the "West Bank," PA President Mahmoud Abbas has lost almost all respect of his constituents. Openly mocked by most of them, the northern sector, centered about Jenin, is governed by gangs. To the southern sector, centered around Hebron, various clans have taken over, bypassing Abbas in every aspect of governance, including international negotiations with Jordan. Even in Ramallah, international non-profits funded by Europe and other Western States dictate agendas that, everywhere else in the world, are the sole prerogatives of national government.
While Israel does not see hope for a two-state solution, it has not given up hope for finding a solution. In the apparent death of a two-state framework, it sees other opportunities for peace. Carter's insistence on the two-state framework does not even remotely fit the real-life, on-the-ground reality of Israeli and Palestinians today.
FINALLY, under its own charter, the UN simply does not have the authority to create a nation-state out of thin air, and all the more egregiously, to do so in direct contravention of the legal rights of an existing member state. The fact that it would even consider doing such a thing to Israel is explicit proof that Carter's vision of UN peacekeeping force to protect Israel is laughable.
Jimmy Carter at age 92 is living proof that, contrary to common perception, age does not always mellow. Often as not, as with America's 39th President, it sharpens and hardens deadly notions that in this case, and no matter how they are clothed, seek to destroy the Jewish State of Israel.