Former President Jimmy Carter has criticized Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for Israel's push towards a "Greater Israel," worsening the crisis for Palestinians and thwarting progress towards a two-state solution.
Carter made the comments during a two-day visit to Israel and the West Bank, a trip he made with former prime minister of Norway Gro Harlem Brundtland and the former president of Ireland, Mary Robinson. The three are members of The Elders, a group of 10 former world leaders.
Carter said that Israel's continued growth of West Bank settlements has created a situation “worse now than it’s ever been for the Palestinians.”
“It looks to me like a decision has been made,” he added, “to go to the one-state solution but to conceal it from the world.”
"All indications to us is that this two-state solution has basically been abandoned and we've had a moving forward towards a 'greater Israel' which I think is contrary to the two-state solution concept," Carter said.
Robinson made similar comments, saying that the group sees evidence of more settlements on each of its visits, and "What we want to do as Elders is draw attention to the fact that there is a kind of insidious undermining of the possibility of a two-state solution."
Carter also cast blame on the U.S. for the lack of progress towards a two-state resolution, saying that the U.S. "has withdrawn our commitment to be the major negotiator."
"And when the United States withdraws, of course, that gives Israel a completely free hand to do what it wants," Carter said.
Brundtland also slammed the impact of the Israeli occupation on Palestinians.
“It has been very sad to hear of the considerable problems that long-standing Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem face in their everyday lives – from having to reapply every year for the right to stay, to businesspeople waiting years for licenses, to those who have lost their homes to settlers or demolition. The effect of this system is to create great suffering, and erode the diverse character of this city, which is so important for people of all faiths and traditions from all around the world."
"As a medical doctor, I was particularly affected by our visit to Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem, a Palestinian model of excellence for the entire region which faces enormous difficulties in treating those people nearest to it from the West Bank – never mind Palestinians from Gaza – due to Israeli travel restrictions. It tragically illustrates the direct human impact of the present deadlock," stated Brundtland.