Hamas deserves to be recognized by the international community despite its 'militant past,' and its leaders may well abandon violence, according to former U.S. president Jimmy Carter.
Carter, who was speaking to CNN, also said that the United States must not cut off financial aid to the Palestinian Authority, but rather to transfer it via a third party, such as the United Nations
If you sponsor an election or promote democracy and freedom around the world, then when people make their own decision about their leaders, I think that all the governments should recognize that administration and let them form their government," Carter said.
"If there are prohibitions -- like, for instance, in the United States, against giving any money to a government that is controlled by Hamas -- then the United States could channel the same amount of money to the Palestinian people through the United Nations, through the refugee fund, through UNICEF, things of that kind," the former president added.
Carter noted: "The people of Palestine - who already suffer... under Israeli occupation - will not suffer because they are deprived of a right to pay their school teachers, policemen, welfare workers, health workers and provide food for people."
Carter was the U.S. president who stood behind the peace agreement between Israel and Egypt at Camp David.
He later won the Nobel Peace Prize. After finishing his term as president in the White House, he established the "Carter Center" in Atlanta, and has sent many monitors to elections in various countries.