Without mentioning the onslaught of attacks by Palestinian terrorists, former President Jimmy Carter told a national audience watching the “Tonight Show with Jay Leno” there is “horrible persecution” of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis, and he is urging a return to peace talks between the residents of the embattled region.

“In Palestinian territory, there is horrible persecution of the Palestinians who live on their own land,” Carter said.

“A minority of Israelis want to have the land instead of peace. The majority of Israelis for the last 30 years have always said [they] will exchange their own land in exchange for peace. But a minority disagrees and they have occupied the land, they have confiscated it, they have colonized it, and they forced Palestinians away from their homes, away from their pastures, away from their fields, cut down the olive trees and severely persecuted the Palestinians.”

The 82-year-old Carter was on Leno’s show last night to promote his new book, “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid.”

Leno said to the president who held office more than 25 years ago, “But when Israel gives something back, it doesn’t seem like they get anything for it. It seems like it just moves some angry people closer to them.”

“No, that’s not true at all,” responded Carter. “Israel hasn’t really tried to give ‘Palestine’ back to the Palestinians. They did give up some of Gaza. And then they moved out, and the Palestinians captured one soldier and tried to swap [him] for 300 children – some as young as 12 years old – and 94 women, but the Israelis wouldn’t swap. So then Israel reinvaded Gaza. But if Israel ever wants peace – and they do want peace – a majority of Israelis have always said, ‘Let’s get rid of the land, and let’s have peace.’ That’s what we need to have.”

As WND reported last month, the Palestinian terror group Hamas announced the only way to stop its regular rocket fire on Sderot, an Israeli city of about 20,000 nearly three miles from the Gaza Strip border, is for the Jewish state to evacuate the entire city.

Abu Abaida, spokesman for Hamas’ so-called military wing, said his group is seeking to impose “a new equation in which the Zionists understand that for every incursion into Gaza, we will use our rockets to bombard your towns and cities until more and more are forced to evacuate. Our rockets have already improved, as Sderot residents know. We keep working on (the rockets) to improve deadliness, force and distance.”

Carter has come under fire recently, including a highly publicized incident on C-SPAN2 last week when a caller said to him on a phone-in program:

Jimmy Carter listens to a phone-in guest on C-SPAN2 call him an “anti-Semite”

Yes, uh, Mr. Carter, thank you for making me a Republican, because of your incompetence in handling the Iranians, the stagflation, and your cozying up with every dictator, thug and Islamic terrorist there is. And more importantly, I find you to be vile because of your black is heart. [sic] And it’s heart [sic] because you’re an anti-Semite. And let me explain why I think you’re a bigot, a racist and an anti-Semite.

“That’s a terrible epithet,” Carter told Leno. “I negotiated a peace agreement between Israel and Egypt in April of 1979 between [former Israeli Prime Minister Menachem] Begin and [former Egyptian President Anwar] Sadat. Not a word of that treaty has ever been violated. … A major commitment of my life is to bring peace to Israel.”

When asked what the U.S. needs to do now, Carter says he’s hoping his book helps prompt peace talks to resume.

“There hasn’t been a single day of negotiation for peace since Bill Clinton left office,” Carter said. “In the last six years, not a single day of peace negotiations.”

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