Carter talks about economy, Middle East

February 13, 2009 10:58:24 AM PST
Former President Jimmy Carter supports the stimulus package, saying that saving three million jobs is worth the investment.

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The former president came to the ABC7 studios and spoke on the economy and the prospects for peace in the Middle East.

The former president is in San Francisco promoting his new book titled "We can have peace in the Holy Land." He also talked about his plan for peace and also the economy.

Like President Obama, Carter inherited a recession, and his own stimulus plan was not popular back in the 1970's. But he has much higher expectations for the current plan.

Former President Jimmy Carter says the current $790 billion stimulus package is as good as we're going to get.

"I don't think there's any doubt that this is the best deal that can be consummated within the existing Congress without any appreciable Republican support," said President Carter.

Mr. Carter said it's not surprising that Republicans in the House voted unanimously against the plan.

"If they don't comply with the policies established by their superiors, they lose their committee appointments and they also exclude themselves from getting the benefits of appropriations bills for their district," said Carter.

The former president said he doesn't know how to get two parties working together. But in his book, he is hopeful about the Israelis and the Palestinians coming to an agreement.

"There's no doubt that the majority of Israeli citizens and the vast majority of Palestinians really want to see a peace agreement," he said.

Thirty years after he helped broker peace between Egypt and Israel, Carter says Israel and the Palestinians are both to blame for failing to find a peaceful settlement. He blames the Bush administration for failing to stop the recent invasion of Gaza.

"There's no doubt in my mind that Washington was acquiescent, if not, actively approving the attack on Gaza," said President Carter.

The former president calls it a totally unnecessary war that could've been prevented.

"And of course if the goal was to weaken Hamas I think it strengthened them," said President Carter.

In his book, Carter says Hamas has offered to stand by a peace agreement with Israel, if it's approved by the Palestinian people in a referendum.

"Public opinion polls have shown that 85 percent of the Palestinians would approve it, if it was a balanced accepted by the leadership," said President Carter.

Mr. Carter says if it comes to a referendum he'll be personally involved in monitoring the Palestinian vote.

He went to Nicaragua for the first President Bush he went to North Korea with the blessing of President Clinton.

"But I don't think it's possible for me to play an envoy role in the Middle East if it's related to Israel, because I don't have the support or confidence of many of the American Jewish organizations here," said President Carter.

The 39th president has been critical of Israel and for that he's come under heavy criticism, and security surrounding Mr. Carter was extraordinary.

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