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Jimmy Carter and Israel: 10 of President's Notable Quotes

Image: Jimmy Carter and Israel: 10 of President's Notable Quotes
Portrait of Jimmy Carter taken 29 June 1987 in Beijing, China. (AFP/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 29 Dec 2014 03:43 PM

While president of the United States, Jimmy Carter brokered a historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, but the former commander in chief has become more critical of Israel since leaving office.

Some of his more recent thoughts on the conflict between Israel and Palestine were published in his 2006 book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," in which he claimed Israel's settlement on Palestinian land was the main obstructer to Middle East peace, an idea that received major blowback in Israel.

Below are 12 notable quotes said by Carter about Israel, while in and out of office.

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1. "The bottom line is this: Peace will come to Israel and the Middle East only when the Israeli government is willing to comply with international law, with the Roadmap for Peace, with official American policy, with the wishes of a majority of its own citizens — and honor its own previous commitments — by accepting its legal borders. All Arab neighbors must pledge to honor Israel's right to live in peace under these conditions.” – An excerpt from Carter's book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid."

2. In an op-ed piece on ForeignPolicy.com, Carter and ex-Ireland President Marty Robinson urged the U.S. government to acknowledge Hamas as a "legitimate political actor" and slammed Israel's actions in the Gaza Strip as a "humanitarian catastrophe."

"There is no humane or legal justification for the way the Israeli Defense Forces are conducting this war," the two men wrote in the article. "Israeli bombs, missiles, and artillery have pulverized large parts of Gaza, including thousands of homes, schools, and hospitals. More than 250,000 people have been displaced from their homes in Gaza. Hundreds of Palestinian noncombatants have been killed. Much of Gaza has lost access to water and electricity completely. This is a humanitarian catastrophe. There is never an excuse for deliberate attacks on civilians in conflict. These are war crimes. This is true for both sides."

3. "We have a special relationship with Israel. It's absolutely crucial that no one in our country or around the world ever doubt that our number one commitment in the Middle East is to protect the right of Israel to exist, to exist permanently, and to exist in peace. It's a special relationship." – Carter at a May 12, 1977, news conference.

4. "A few days ago, in a conversation with about 30 members of the House of Representatives, I said that I would rather commit suicide than hurt Israel. I think many of them realize the two concepts are not incompatible. If I should ever hurt Israel, which I won't, I think political suicide would automatically result because it is not only our Jewish citizens who have this deep commitment to Israel, but there is an overwhelming support throughout the nation. There is a common bond of commitment to the same principles of openness and freedom and democracy and strength and courage that ties us together in an irrevocable way." – Carter, in a speech to the Democratic National Committee, Oct. 22, 1977.

5. "The special relationship between the United States and Israel still stands. Our total commitments to Israel’s security and our hope for peace are still pre-eminent among all the other considerations that our Nation has in the Middle East. ... But there need be no concern among the Israeli people nor among Jews in this country that our Nation has changed or turned away from Israel." Carter, at a press conference at Illinois State Legislature, May 26, 1978.

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6. "The United States ... has a warm and a unique relationship of friendship with Israel that is morally right. It is compatible with our deepest religious convictions, and it is right in terms of America's own strategic interests. We are committed to Israel's security, prosperity, and future as a land that has so much to offer to the world. A strong Israel and a strong Egypt serve our own security interests. ... We are committed to Israel's right to live in peace with all its neighbors, within secure and recognized borders, free from terrorism. We are committed to a Jerusalem that will forever remain undivided, with free access to all faiths to the holy places. Nothing will deflect us from these fundamental principles and commitments which I've just outlined. – On the 1st Anniversary of the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Treaty Remarks, March 23, 1980.

7. "I would like to emphasize, in the strongest possible terms, that our aid for Israel is not only altruistic; indeed, our close relationship with Israel is in the moral and the strategic interest of the United States. There is a mutual relationship and there is a mutual benefit and there is a mutual commitment, which has been impressed very deeply in my mind and also in the minds of the leaders of my Government and the Government of Israel. And I will continue to work with the leaders of Israel to strengthen even further our common commitments and our common goals. We know that in a time of crisis, we can count on Israel. And the people of Israel know that in a time of crisis, they can count on the United States." – In a speech at the United Jewish Appeal National Young Leadership Conference, Feb. 25, 1980.

8. "I have been in love with the Palestinian people for many years. I have two great-grandsons that are rapidly learning about the people here and the anguish and suffering and deprivation of human rights that you have experienced ever since 1948." – July 13, 2009, while being given an award by the Palestinian government.

9. "I don't think that Israel has any legal or moral justification for their massive bombing of the entire nation of Lebanon. What happened is that Israel is holding almost 10,000 prisoners, so when the militants in Lebanon or in Gaza take one or two soldiers, Israel looks upon this as a justification for an attack on the civilian population of Lebanon and Gaza. I do not think that's justified, no." – Aug. 15, 2006, during an interview with Der Spigel.

10. "Since I was 18 years old, I have taught the Bible. For the last 15 or 20 years, I have taught every Sunday when I was home or near my own house, so that would be 35 or 40 times per year. Half of those Sundays, the text comes from the Hebrew Bible. I have had a deep personal interest in the Holy Land and in the teachings of the Hebrew people. God has a special position for the Jewish people, the Hebrews, or whatever. I know the difference between ancient Israel and Judaea, and I know the history. I don't have any problem with the Jewish people." – New York magazine, July 20, 2008.

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While president of the United States, Jimmy Carter brokered a historic peace agreement between Israel and Egypt, but the former commander in chief has become more critical of Israel since leaving office.
jimmy carter, israel, quotes
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2014-43-29
Monday, 29 Dec 2014 03:43 PM
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