By Mick Krever, Claire Calzonetti & Juliet Fuisz, CNN
The differences to bridge for peace between the Israelis and Palestinians are not as great now as they were between Israel and Egypt during the groundbreaking Camp David accords, Former President Jimmy Carter told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Wednesday.
“The differences between the two are not nearly so great as they were then,” Carter said, “if Israel will still accept, which they did in 1978 and ‘79, that the acquisition of territory by force is not legal.”
President Carter’s efforts as president led to the groundbreaking first-ever peace treaty between Israel and Egypt, known as the Camp David Accords.
Direct negotiations between Israel and another neighbor, the Palestinians, now look more real than they have in years, thanks to the work of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
President Carter – as a member of The Elders, a group of distinguished former presidents, veteran diplomats, and other leaders founded by Nelson Mandela – is using his years of experience to try to solve some of the world’s toughest problems.
He spoke with Amanpour in London along with fellow-Elder Lakhdar Brahimi, the longtime diplomat who is currently the joint UN-Arab League envoy to Syria.
Brahimi told Amanpour that one of the toughest issues to be worked out in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, the right of Palestinians to return to their erstwhile homes now in Israeli territory, may not actually be as difficult as it is made out to be.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and longtime diplomat Lakhdar Brahimi are uniquely qualified to reflect on the legacy of Nelson Mandela.
Not only are they lifelong peacemakers with decades of experience each, but they are a members of The Elders, the organization of former heads of state and leaders founded by Mandela himself.
“He not only was a good in being theoretically wonderful,” President Carter told Amanpour on Wednesday, “but he also brought wonderful new life to his own people.”
Brahimi, who is currently the U.N. and Arab League envoy to Syria, reflected on the iconic speech given by Mandela when he was released from prison.
“To make that speech,” Brahimi said, “in which he reached out to the people who, who were keeping him under their feet for 27 years, is hugely inspiring.”