WASHINGTON – US network Fox reported Wednesday that former US president Jimmy Carter was preparing for an unprecedented meeting with Hamas
politburo chief Khaled Mashaal.
The Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported Tuesday that Carter was planning a trip to Syria
for mid-April, during which he would meet with Mashaal, the exiled head of the Islamist group, on April 18.
Jimmy Carter was US president between 1976 and 1980, and was partially responsible for the peace treaty signed between Israel
Recently he has been blamed by Israel for harboring anti-Israeli views, due in part to the release of his book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid".
Israeli officials have received requests to allow him to enter the dispute between Israel and the Palestinians as a mediator.
Carter did not receive a negative response, but his request was evaded, officials said. However, according to reports, the former president plans to involve himself in the dispute with or without Israel's approval.
Deanna Congileo, Carter’s press secretary, confirmed in an e-mail to FOX network that Carter will be in the Mideast in April. Pressed for comment, Congileo did not deny that the former president is considering visiting Mashaal.
The Republican Jewish Coalition (RJC) responded to the reports by calling upon presidential candidates John McCain, Barack Obama, and Hilary Clinton to object to Carter's plan to meet with Mashaal, claiming that as head of a terrorist organization it would be illegal for an American official to meet with him.
In a press statement, Executive Director of the RJC Matthew Brooks slammed the reported meeting, saying that it was unacceptable for a former American president to glorify a terrorist organization by meeting with its leader.
He said that Hamas denies Israel's right to exist, and is involved with the kidnapping of its soldiers, in addition to which it led celebrations in the streets of Gaza following the 9/11 attacks. He added that Mashaal has praised the Iranian president for his 'bravery' in denying the Holocaust.