JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israelis and Palestinians are on a path to forming one state, Jimmy Carter said.
"A two-state solution is clearly preferable and has been embraced at the grass roots," the former U.S. president said in an Op-Ed published Sunday in the Washington Post. He said the possibility of one state "is obviously the goal of Israeli leaders who insist on colonizing the West Bank and East Jerusalem."
"A majority of the Palestinian leaders with whom we met are seriously considering acceptance of one state, between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea," Carter went on. "By renouncing the dream of an independent Palestine, they would become fellow citizens with their Jewish neighbors and then demand equal rights within a democracy. In this nonviolent civil rights struggle, their examples would be Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and Nelson Mandela."
Carter said that "Non-Jews are already a slight majority of total citizens in this area, and within a few years Arabs will constitute a clear majority."
He wrote the piece following his visit to the region with the "Elders," who include Archbishop Desmond Tutu, former presidents Fernando Henrique Cardoso of Brazil and Mary Robinson of Ireland, former Prime Minister Gro Brundtland of Norway and women’s activist Ela Bhatt of India.
The group visited Gaza, which Carter called in his piece "a walled-in ghetto inhabited by 1.6 million Palestinians, 1.1 million of whom are refugees from Israel and the West Bank."
During the past 16 months, Carter visited the Middle East four times and met with leaders in Israel, Egypt, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza.