Former President Jimmy Carter, widely seen as a hero in Israel for orchestrating the peace agreement between Egypt and Israel 30 years ago, has been hearing harsh words lately from the Israeli government from his decision to meet with leaders of Hamas, a Palestinian group labeled a terrorist organization by the United States. Carter is meeting with the group with goals to start a dialogue that could lead to greater peace between Palestinians and Israelis. Carter reported his visit as the following:
I’m not a negotiator. I’m someone who might provide some communication. I’m going to try to make [Meshal] agree to a peaceful resolution, both with Israel and with Hamas’s Palestinian rivals
Furthermore, Nasser al-Shaer, a leading member of Hamas, who is the democratically elected majority party in the Palestinian Authority, said,
Carter has weight and respect, and I hope he’ll have a role and effect on the Palestinian problem
However, Israel has refused to meet with Carter, allowing only for a brief visit with Shimon Peres, Israel’s ceremonial president. Peres made sure that Israel’s condemnation of the visit was well known to Carter. The U.S. government has voiced its displeasure as well:
In Washington, U.S. State Department spokesman Tom Casey told reporters Monday that the U.S. has made clear our views that we did not think now is the moment for him [Carter] or anyone to be talking with Hamas.
The U.S. would be happy to hear Carter’s reflections on his visit with Hamas, but it would not likely change the administration’s views on the militant group, Casey said.
The Associated Press article further stated that,
Both the U.S. and Israeli governments have already expressed displeasure at Carter’s overtures to Hamas, an Islamic group responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Israelis and labeled a terrorist organization by both countries.
I would like to point you to an editorial that appeared in the daily Israeli newspaper, Haaretz.
The government of Israel is boycotting Jimmy Carter, the 39th president of the United States, during his visit here this week. Ehud Olmert, who has not managed to achieve any peace agreement during his public life, and who even tried to undermine negotiations in the past, “could not find the time” to meet the American president who is a signatory to the peace agreement with Egypt.
The boycott will not be remembered as a glorious moment in this government’s history. Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life to humanitarian missions, to peace, to promoting democratic elections, and to better understanding between enemies throughout the world.
Whether Carter’s approach to conflict resolution is considered by the Israeli government as appropriate or defeatist, no one can take away from the former U.S. president his international standing, nor the fact that he brought Israel and Egypt to a signed peace that has since held. Carter’s method, which says that it is necessary to talk with every one, has still not proven to be any less successful than the method that calls for boycotts and air strikes. In terms of results, at the end of the day, Carter beats out any of those who ostracize him.
Our debt to Jimmy Carter – [Haaretz Editorial]