JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter on Monday said the Israeli-Palestinian peace process had reached a crisis point and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government was not pursuing a two-state solution.
“That policy of promoting a two-state solution seems to be abandoned now and we are deeply concerned about this move towards this catastrophic so-called one-state choice ... this is a major concern,” Carter told a news conference.
Carter helped forge Israel’s peace deal with Egypt in 1979, the first between the Jewish state and an Arab country but has been a strong critic of Israeli settlement policy in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.
“Every (Israeli) prime minister that I have known has been a pursuer of the two-state solution and I don’t know that (U.S. President Barack) Obama has found that Prime Minister Netanyahu has been willing to go that route,” Carter added.
He spoke during a visit along with other members of “The Elders”, a group of former world leaders, to Israel, the occupied West Bank and Egypt.
“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.
Israeli-Palestinian peace talks collapsed in 2010 over settlement building in the West Bank, territory Israel captured in a 1967 Middle East war that Palestinians seek, with the Gaza Strip, for a future state, with East Jerusalem as its capital.
Netanyahu has voiced support for a two-state solution, but has said a future Palestinian country must be demilitarized and accept an Israeli military presence along the Jordan River, its likely eastern frontier.
He has said Israel was willing to make “painful compromises” for peace that require giving up “parts of the ancestral Jewish homeland” but has balked at returning to lines that existed before the 1967 conflict.
Israel cites historical and Biblical links to the West Bank, which it calls Judea and Samaria.
Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Michael Roddy