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Archive for Monday, April 14, 2008

Israeli leaders shun Carter over Hamas talks

April 14, 2008

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— Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is getting a cool reception in Israel, where he arrived on Sunday at the start of a nine-day Middle East tour that he said would likely include a meeting with Hamas leaders in Syria.

Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner who brokered the first Arab-Israeli peace accord, is being shunned by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. However, Carter met on Sunday with President Shimon Peres, whose position is ceremonial.

Carter also plans to travel to the West Bank and to meet the leaders of Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Jordan on what the Atlanta-based Carter Center called a "study mission" to support Middle East peace efforts.

A spokesman for Olmert declined to comment on the Carter trip, but other Israeli officials said the reason for the cold shoulder here was Carter's plan to meet Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus, a move that has been criticized by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.

The United States and Israel consider Hamas a terrorist organization, and are boycotting the militant Islamic group, which has carried out dozens of suicide bombings and whose charter calls for Israel's destruction. U.S. and Israeli policy is to isolate Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, and pursue peace efforts with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who favors a negotiated settlement with Israel.

One Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said that high-level meetings here with Carter before he goes on to meet Hamas leaders would have "sounded like we are sending a message," when "we don't want anything to do with them."

Carter, who met on Sunday with the parents of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held by Hamas militants in Gaza, told the ABC News program "This Week" that "it's likely that I will be meeting with the Hamas leaders" in Syria, where he is to see President Bashar Assad.

"I think there's no doubt in anyone's mind that if Israel is ever going to find peace with justice concerning the relationship with their next-door neighbors, the Palestinians, that Hamas will have to be included in the process," Carter said. "I think someone should be meeting with Hamas to see what we can do to encourage them to be cooperative."

Mohammed Nazzal, a Hamas official in Syria, said the group "welcomes the request" from Carter to see Mashaal, and that the meeting would take place Friday. It would be the first public contact between a prominent American and Hamas officials since the Rev. Jesse Jackson met Mashaal in Syria in 2006.

On Friday, Rice criticized Carter for the planned meeting. "I find it hard to understand what is going to be gained by having discussions with Hamas about peace when Hamas is, in fact, the impediment to peace," she said.

Peres, whose contacts with Carter go back years, felt he could not boycott a former U.S. president, but told him that meeting Mashaal would be "a grave mistake," said Ayelet Frish, a spokeswoman for Peres.

Carter brokered the 1978 Camp David accords between Egypt and Israel that led to a peace treaty a year later. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.

The publication two years ago of his book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid" provoked fierce criticism from American Jewish groups and some fellow Democrats because of its description of Israeli policies in the occupied territories as "a system of apartheid" in which two populations on the same land are completely separated, with the Israelis dominant and suppressing violence by depriving Palestinians of their human rights.

Comments

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

Carter is a realist who actually wants peace, unlike BushCo.The reign of terror by the Israeli government against Palestinians greatly dwarfs the terroristic actions of Hamas against Israelis. But could there be any meaningful peace talks between Israelis and Palestinians if the Israeli government is excluded from those talks? Of course not, and the criticism of Carter merely points out how disingenuous and hypocritical both BushCo and the Israeli govt. are when they say they want peace but refuse to talk to the democratically elected government of Palestinians.

cowboy 6 years, 8 months ago

"I think that it's very important that at least someone meet with the Hamas leaders to express their views, to ascertain what flexibility they have, to try to induce them to stop all attacks against innocent civilians in Israel and to cooperate with the Fatah as a group that unites the Palestinians, maybe to get them to agree to a cease-fire - things of this kind," he said.Sounds pretty radical to me , notPeace in the ME is not what Bush wants and his bobble head Condoleeza hasn't had the time to interrupt her shoe shopping trips to make any headway at all. It can't hurt

oldvet 6 years, 8 months ago

Well, Britain had Neville Chamberlain and we have Jimmy Carter... dupes cut from the same mold...

jumpin_catfish 6 years, 8 months ago

Carter is a nut who wants his legacy repaired before he dies.

jd 6 years, 8 months ago

When was the last time a Jew blew themselves up in a crowded marketplace, flew a plane into a building or sent rockets into civilian populations?Supporting Carter talking to Hamas is akin to supporting Chamberlain talking to Hitler.

moo 6 years, 8 months ago

Carter was a terrible president. He's a great ex-president.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

"Carter was a terrible president."Carter made a lot of mistakes as president, but probably the two biggest were not taking into account how corrupt inside-the-beltway politics is, and underestimating just how big a mess Nixon/Ford left the country in. And his biggest foreign policy mistake was listening to Henry Kissinger in allowing his friend and fellow criminal, the Shah, to come to the US after being deposed. After 25 years of propping him up in power to allow the Brits and Americans to steal Iran's oil, that was all it took to hand the country over to the Ayatollahs, who jumped on the hostage-taking of the American Embassy by a bunch of students to cement their hold on power.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

"Look at Kissinger. Went home in 1977 and stayed there. Did Kissinger insert himself as a go-between and interfere when Carter was working with Begin and Sadat?"You obviously know nothing of Kissinger's history since leaving government."As far as the whole Israeli/Palestinian mess: when Israelis start wiring themselves up with vests and crashing Palestinian mosques and shopping centers and wedding celebrations and Ramadan dinners, then you can talk to me about an Israeli "reign of terror.""They don't need to strap their bombs to themselves. They just level entire neighborhoods from a safe distance with weaponry supplied by the good ole USA.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 6 years, 8 months ago

"Could he get elected by the liberals today touting his born again Christian faith?"Both Obama and Clinton profess to be practicing Christians."Giving what Carter did with Iran in 1979,"Exactly what are you putting forward as given?

pisafromthewest 6 years, 8 months ago

Isn't amusing that our favorite bus-riding clown so adamently decries the treatment of the indigenous peoples of this continent, but condems a nation who a significant portion of the world has been trying to exterminate forever for defending themselves?Careful, bozo, your racism is showing even more than usual today.

notajayhawk 6 years, 8 months ago

anxiousatheist (Anonymous) says: "Oh and it wasn't the work Carter put into the negotiations? Funny how "kickin' butts" is your answer to problems, real smart:"Nice revisionist history there, aa. Carter let them sit and rot for a_year_and_a_half while he "negotiated." They were released as Reagan was taking office because it was very clear to them that the peanut farmer was being replaced with someone who wasn't going to "negotiate" any longer for our own citizens who were kidnapped from the sovereign territory of an embassy. "Kickin' butts" is a HLL of a lot better option than letting 52 of our diplomatic personnel, not just citizens but representatives of our country, sit there for 444 days. Pretty sickening that clowns like you feel sorry for the poor (bomb-wearing) Palestinians, and could give a rat's a* for your own countrymen.

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