Former President Jimmy Carter says he supports the Palestinian campaign for statehood recognition at the United Nations because the Obama administration hasn’t offered a plan for peace in the region.
“As an alternative to a deadlock and a stalemate now, we reluctantly support the Palestinian move for recognition,” Carter said on Tuesday at the Carter Center in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press.
The 39th President of the United States said that statehood recognition at the U.N. would be a “real step forward,” even if the Palestinians were only upgraded “non-member state” status at the world body.
Carter says that he would not have been in favor of the U.N. recognition bid had the Obama administration “put forward any sort of comprehensive peace proposal.”
The former president said peace in the Middle East would only come if Israel would “withdraw from the occupied territories and that’s something that so far the Israeli government has been unable to do.”
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is scheduled to address the United Nations next week. He is expected to ask the United Nations to grant them recognition of statehood.
The Palestinian government plans to ask the U.N. Security council for a vote on full membership status on Sept. 19. The U.S. will almost certainly veto the bid, after which the Palestinians will likely turn to the General Assembly for recognition or an upgrade in status.
The General Assembly cannot grant sovereign status, but can upgrade the Palestinian Authority’s U.N. status from “observer” to “non-member state”, the same recognition that, for example, the Vatican receives. This would open the way for Palestinians to join U.N. bodies and conventions, and pursue claims against Israel in the International Criminal Court.
The General Assembly is seen as widely sympathetic to the Palestinian bid for statehood, while the United States has been trying frantically to sink their campaign.
“The only way of getting a lasting solution is through direct negotiations between the parties and the route to that lies in Jerusalem and Ramallah, not in New York,” Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Tuesday as she announced a last-ditch effort to send two envoys to the Middle East to head off the Palestinian recognition effort.
Israel has proposed a return to the negotiation table without preconditions – an idea that the Palestinians have declined to pursue.
Meanwhile, the Palestinians will renew talks with Israel if one of two conditions is met, a senior aide to Abbas said on Wednesday.
Abbas’s aide Nimmer Hammad told Army Radio the Palestinians would return to direct negotiations if Israel agrees to one of their two preconditions: a freeze on all settlement construction or an Israeli declaration that the Palestinian state’s borders will be based on the pre-1967 lines, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Hammad said, however, that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu turned down the offer.
“We believe that both the conditions need to exist together, because they are connected to one another,” Hammad said. “However, [Israeli] President [Shimon] Peres tried to get Netanyahu to agree to only one condition and he refused.”
Hammad told the radio station that Peres must tell the Israeli people that Netanyahu, and not Abbas, is to blame for the peace talks stalemate, the Jerusalem Post wrote.