Carter blames Israel for lack of peace accord

JERUSALEM (AP) – Former President Jimmy Carter said Monday during a visit to Jerusalem that the prospect of an Israel-Palestinian peace accord is “vanishing,” blaming Israeli settlement of the West Bank.
Carter, a longtime critic of Israeli policies, called the current situation “catastrophic” and blamed Israel for the growing isolation of East Jerusalem from the West Bank. He said a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital has become “unviable.”
“We’ve reached a crisis stage,” he said. “The two-state solution is the only realistic path to peace and security for Israel and the Palestinians.”
Carter, 88, is leading a delegation known as the “The Elders,” which includes the former prime minister of Norway and the ex-president of Ireland. The group met with Israeli President Shimon Peres and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
But they didn’t meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because Carter said they haven’t been granted meetings on previous visits.
Netanyahu has pledged support for a Palestinian state, but peace talks with the Palestinians have been frozen for most of his tenure.
“Up until now, every prime minister has been a willing and enthusiastic supporter of the two-state solution,” Carter said.

President, judiciary clash on bid to visit jail

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) – Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clashed Monday with the country’s judiciary over his right to visit the prison where a jailed aide is held, in a new sign of the leader’s waning influence in his last year in office.
He accused the judiciary of “unconstitutional” behavior and said that as Iran’s president he did not need permission to visit Evin prison, north of Tehran.
The clash is part of an internal power struggle between Ahmadinejad and hard-liners in Iran’s political elite, and a sign of the increasing tensions between the two ahead of presidential elections scheduled for June.
Ahmadinejad, who cannot run for re-election because of term limits, once enjoyed the backing of the country’s conservative clerical establishment but lost it when he was perceived to be challenging the authority of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.
His policies have been challenged in parliament, and some of his allies have been prosecuted, including his top press adviser Ali Akbar Javanfekr.
Javanfekr was jailed last month after being convicted of publishing material deemed insulting to Khamenei.