can be trusted, former US President Jimmy Carter said Monday, in an interview on NBC's 'Today' show. Carter spoke with NBC's Meredith Vieira about his perspective on the Middle East conflict, and his new book, "We Can Have Peace in the Holy Land."
According to the former president, Hamas never deviated from their commitments as per the ceasefire agreement. He said that, during his meetings with Hamas leaders in Damascus and Gaza, he was promised that Hamas would honor agreements between Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israel, as long as they were supported by public referendum.
Hamas did bad things. I'm not defending them. But they did adhere to the ceasefire fully, Carter maintained. He added that Israel has a choice between a one-state solution – which is, for Israel, a catastrophe, and a two-state solution, which everyone would support.
In his interview, Carter explained the rationale behind his book, saying "I am writing another book about the Middle East because the new president of the United States is facing a major opportunity — and responsibility — to lead in ending conflict between Israel and its neighbors. The time is now. Peace is possible."
He also attempted to explain the controversy over his previous book, "Palestine: Peace, Not Apartheid," noting that the use of the word apartheid was provocative and claiming that it had triggered a debate over the use of the word, rather than the content of his book.
Sunday, Carter met with President Barack Obama's new US envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell. While Carter is not certain Obama should speak directly with Hamas, he believes that Mitchell should, explaining that "there won't be peace in the Middle East without Hamas involvement."
But despite the obstacle of Hamas involvement, the former president expressed optimism for peace. "Despite the recent lack of progress, I see this as a unique time for hope, not despair. The outlines of a peace agreement are clear and have broad international support," he told NBC.
"There is a remarkable compatibility among pertinent United Nations resolutions, previous peace agreements reached at Camp David and in Oslo, the publicly declared policy of the United States, the Geneva Accord, key goals of the International Quartet’s Roadmap for Peace, and tentative proposals made by all Arab nations for reconciliation with Israel," he said.
"Perhaps most important, there is an overwhelming common desire for peaceful and prosperous lives among the citizens of Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, and Egypt," he added.