Diplomacy

Top Peace Negotiator: Jimmy Carter’s UN Plan “Would Leave Obama Legacy In Tatters”

The New York Times op-ed that former president Jimmy Carter published on Tuesday, which explains his support for a United Nations Security Council resolution outlining parameters for an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal, contains recommendations that would “leave the Obama legacy in tatters, while diminishing US credibility in the process,” veteran State Department peace negotiator Aaron David Miller wrote in an analysis for CNN.com Wednesday.

Miller, who served under both Democratic and Republican administrations, expressed sympathy with Carter’s desire to achieve peace between Israel and the Palestinians. But he warned that following the former president’s suggestion would “make matters worse.” A unilateral move taken by a lame duck Obama administration would very well be reversed by the incoming Trump administration, giving such an effort limited viability anyway. In all likelihood, Miller explained, a unilateral move to support Palestinian statehood in the UN would backfire.

Firstly, he argued, “any initiative undertaken during the presidential transition in the United States would need to address not just Palestinian needs, but those of Israelis, too. No administration I’ve ever served in took a unilateral, consequential step related to the peace process that didn’t bear this fundamental principle in mind.” Miller noted that Carter kept this in mind when overseeing the historic peace deal between Israel and Egypt, showing sensitivity to the concerns of both Egyptian President Anwar Sadat and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin.

A unilateral effort in the Security Council to impose parameters for Israeli-Palestinian peace would only serve to alienate Israel while “having little appreciable impact on the realization of Palestinian statehood.” Rather than advancing the cause of peace, Miller wrote, such an effort “would inevitably widen the gap between Israelis and Palestinians.” Even worse, it would increase the “risk of more violence by raising Palestinian expectations without any conceivable promise of delivering.”

Miller argued that since the requisite conditions for peace in the Middle East do not currently exist, Obama’s best option is to “adopt the diplomatic equivalent of the Hippocratic oath and do no harm.”

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