Monday, August 07, 2006

Carter: Bush has pursued 'erroneous' Mideast policy

Carter: Bush has pursued 'erroneous' Mideast policy

PLAINFIELD TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — Former President Carter, who helped broker the historic Camp David peace accord, said President Bush has pursued an "erroneous policy" that has fostered violence in the Middle East.

Carter said the United States should work for an immediate cease-fire between Israel and Hezbollah and the world community should concentrate on a long-term solution, but he is uncertain whether Bush can accomplish a cease-fire.

"It depends on whether world opinion is strong enough to get the administration to change its erroneous policy, which has been to encourage the continuation of attacks on both sides," Carter, a Democrat, told The Grand Rapids Press in an interview Friday.

Carter's comments came a day before the U.S. and France agreed on a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that calls for an end to the fighting between Israel and Hezbollah, but would allow Israel to defend itself if attacked.

As president, Carter helped broker the Camp David peace accord between Israel and Egypt, the first peace deal between the Jewish state and an Arab nation.

"In my opinion, maybe the worst ally Israel has had in Washington has been the George W. Bush administration, which hasn't worked to bring a permanent peace to Israel," Carter told the newspaper.

Carter and his wife Rosalynn were in Kent County's Plainfield Township, near Grand Rapids, on Friday to attend a fundraiser for their son, Jack, who has launched a longshot bid to oust Nevada Republican Sen. John Ensign.

President Carter also called for a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq.

"In my opinion, we should make every effort now to withdraw American troops from Iraq," Carter said. "I would say certainly begin a major withdrawal no later than the end of this year."