Jimmy Carter Gets Tepid Reception in Israel

April 14, 2008 03:52 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The former president arrived in Israel on Sunday for a nine-day tour of the Middle East, but Israeli dignitaries have snubbed his requests for meetings.

30-Second Summary

Carter’s plan to meet with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal has angered top Israeli officials. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the United States and Israel. The 83-year-old former president’s request to meet with Marwan Bargouthi, a likely successor to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, has also raised eyebrows.

An unnamed senior Israeli official said “scheduling problems” was the official reason Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and Defense Minister Ehud Barak would not be meeting Carter.

Uzi Arad, an adviser to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu, added that “there is no doubt that Jimmy Carter as a former president should be greeted as a matter of protocol, but it does not mean” that Olmert and Livni have to meet with him.

The only high-ranking Israeli official on Carter’s agenda is President Shimon Peres, the ceremonial head of state.

In addition, Israel’s Shin Bet security service denied support for Carter and his entourage, also declining to meet with the head of Carter’s security team.

In an interview with ABC News’ “This Week,” Carter said that he has “been meeting with Hamas leaders for years … since Arafat was elected.” He said that engaging Hamas is key in order “to ascertain what flexibility they have.”

Calev Ben-David
of The Jerusalem Post writes, “It is fairly safe to expect little good to emerge” from the meeting with Mashaal.

While president, Carter brokered the 1979 Camp David Peace Accord between Egypt and Israel.

He has since become an outspoken activist, publishing a controversial book in 2006 about the Middle East peace process entitled “Palestine: Peace, not Apartheid.”

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