Carter To Obama: Recognize Palestine Now

by James M. Wallobama-in-jer

In his Op-ed column in The New York Times, Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States, sent an urgent request to Barack Obama, the 44th President:

“The simple but vital step this administration must take before its term expires on Jan. 20, is to grant American diplomatic recognition to the state of Palestine, as 137 countries have already done, and help it achieve full United Nations membership”.

That column appeared on the morning of November 29, seven weeks and three days before President Obama leaves office.

President-elect Donald Trump’s attitude toward the Palestinian issue is unclear, though an Israeli rightwing minister believes Trump’s election has ended Palestinian hopes for a separate state. 

Israeli Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Wednesday that the possibility of a Palestinian state being established had ended after the election of Donald Trump as U.S. president, calling for an end to the issue that has been at the center of Israeli-Palestinian negotiations for years.

“Trump’s victory is an opportunity for Israel to immediately retract the notion of a Palestinian state in the center of the country, which would hurt our security and just cause,” said Bennett, leader of the far-right Jewish Home party.

Jimmy Carter has no way of knowing if what Bennett says may or may not reflect Trump’s future plans. Who does?

In any event, as Slim Pickens (in Dr. Strangelove) said about himself, this is not Carter’s “first rodeo”.  

In his Times piece, Carter recalls that in 1978, midway through his administration, he invited Israel’s prime minister, Menachem Begin, and Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, to meet him at Camp David.

He wanted them to reach an agreement that would resolve the conflict between Israel and Egypt and address Israel’s occupation of Palestine. 

Carter had initially planned on a three-day meeting, but starting on September 5, he doggedly spent thirteen days with the two leaders until the three leaders could agree on what became known as the Camp David Accords: First, “A Framework for Peace in the Middle East,” which dealt with the West Bank and Gaza, and second, “A Framework for the Conclusion of a Peace Treaty between Egypt and Israel.”

The first accord was never fully implemented–as the last 37 years have continually made clear–but the second, signed on March 26, 1979, laid the basis for the first peace treaty between Israel and one of its Arab neighbors.

Israel’s ongoing refusal to implement the first accord, which was designed to end Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian West Bank and Gaza, brings us to this moment in the final weeks of Obama’s presidency.

Jimmy Carter strongly believes President Obama needs to act to give Palestinians the security Carter has sought for them since he was President. 

Carter is addressing this issue in his message to Obama: Act now; time is short.  

In his New York Times Op-ed, Carter explains that the Camp David Accords were based on United Nations Security Council Resolution 242,

which was passed in the aftermath of the 1967 war. The key words of that resolution were “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war and the need to work for a just and lasting peace in the Middle East in which every state in the area can live in security,” and the “withdrawal of Israel armed forces from territories occupied in the recent conflict.”

The state of Israel has continually violated 242. It gives every sign that it will continue to do so. Carter knows this, and Obama knows this. What Trump knows remains unknown, hence Carter’s urgent request to Obama. 

Take action now and join with 137 other members of the United Nations General Assembly and bring the state of Palestine into the body of nations which will offer the Palestinian people an opportunity to “live in security”.

In the world map below, the 137 nations which have recognized the Palestinian state, are in green. 

President Obama has seven weeks remaining to unilaterally move the United States from grey to green. The clock is running.



             The picture at the top is from the Times of Israel by YonatanSindel/Flash90. The map is from

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
This entry was posted in Jimmy Carter, Middle East, Obama, Palestinians, USA. Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Carter To Obama: Recognize Palestine Now

  1. Samia Khoury says:

    This is Obama’s last chance to make him indeed worthy of the Nobel Peace Price which he had received a priori. Will he seize this opportunity or will he not, is the question????

  2. Thanks, Jim. This is an admirable attempt by President Carter…although it rankles me no end that he felt it appropriate in his text to advocate a “demilitarized” state of Palestine. Obama’s track record is hardly one to generate optimism: after all (as just one example), he has taken no action on the letter request of June 20, 2016, by Congresswoman Betty McCollum and 19 colleagues that Obama appoint a Special Envoy for the Children of Palestine. If Obama finds no compassion for this beleaguered, vulnerable segment of the people of Palestine, why should he stand up for the collectivity of its masses and their decades-long quest for justice within the rule of law, dignity, liberation from tyranny, and peace?

  3. Kathy Matsushima says:

    Is there any way that we can join together to urge President Obama to consider this request? Perhaps he’s not getting as much mail right now and would actually read it.

  4. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    Thank you, Jim. In his message to President Obama, former President Carter is, in fact, doing more than just call on President Obama to act quickly on the core issue of the Middle East, by recognizing the State of Palestine on its pre-June, 1967, borders.
    In his wisdom, President Carter is calling upon President Obama to make Palestine a primary part of his legacy, while some of his other legacies are just about to be torn down by the new Administration. It is also calling on Obama to bring freedom and recognition to Palestine, in an effort to partially make up for the blind US support for Israeli occupation over 7 decades, as well as, to safeguard the vital interests of the US in the Middle East.

  5. D.R. G says:

    The last thing Jews want is a Palestinian state. Even worse for Jews would be a one-state solution where Palestinians have equal rights, ROR, and an Open Jerusalem, all of which are granted by international law and UN Resolutions.
    A two state solution would allow Jews to pretend to grudgingly agree, supposedly reluctantly, to a postage stamp of a country for Palestinians, little water, no way for Palestinians to defend themselves, and restricted movement. Jews would pretend they were giving up a huge amount, when in fact they would have 95% of something that wasn’t theirs.
    One state and equal rights or nothing. How can the world not insist?
    A Jewish state on someone else’s land is repugnant and unacceptable.
    In the meantime, BDS and make Jews/Israelis pariahs.

  6. Robert Assaly says:

    DRG: making Jews pariahs? I think not.

  7. AWAD PAUL SIFRI says:

    DRG: Our issue is NOT with “Jews”. Our issue is with organized groups of the Zionist ideology who have hijacked the Jewish and Christian religions, in order to “justify” their colonial objectives. As Palestinians, we would have fought Muslim Afghans, or Christian Hungarians, equally, had they usurped our homeland. But, it was Zionist Jewish immigrants from Europe who colonized our lands and evicted 80% of our native Palestinian people.
    An ideal solution is a one-state that is secular, democratic, and non-racist.

  8. Peace now says:

    Thank you Jim. President Jimmy Carter is the most celebrated American President who not only advocated Peace in the Middle East, but also worked for it. President Obama should sieze the opportunity to have the USA be among the 137 nations who recognized the State of Palestine, if he wants to end his presidency
    With a good legacy and to be in the annals of history as a man of Peace. Thus making this great country the USA, a partner in peace not a partial to the occupiers of the Palestinian land.

    Wouldn’t it be great for The winner of the Noble Peace Prize to transfer the Power to his successor with a Good legacy to follow.? President Carter is the Whistle Blower, we hope President Obama will not let this urgent call for peace unheeded.

  9. Kathy, I’ve been hoping for some positive reaction to your proposal. Just now, I contacted the official White House website and sent this message to POTUS. After I sent it, a screen popped up that assures us that POTUS reads 10 messages each day from those sent. It’s worth a chance, and I thank you. —

    Mr. Obama, you don’t have many days left as leader of our country. What is the status of your action with respect to the principled initiative by your predecessor-President and Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Jimmy Carter to bring solid recognition to and a path to a better future for the beleaguered people of Palestine? Surely you have read President Carter’s op-ed; here is the link to it:

    Palestine Is Still The Issue!

    Sincerely and aloha, for justice…Robert H. Stiver, Pearl City, Hawaii

  10. hanna tosheh says:

    MR Obama is a very good president and he showed us how in the past 8 years, but he is under the command of the Zionist gang in Washington, and cannot betray that promise to be a member of the elite zion

  11. Patricia says:

    I will be holding a sign, hopefully with other supporters of Palestine, at Obamas Christmas Residence this month. Those in Hawaii please join us after Dec. 16 th. In Kailua on Kaleheo.

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