Former US President Jimmy Carter
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Photo: AP
Palestinian ballot box. Carter: Hamas won
Photo: AP
Carter: Israel rejected Hamas truce offer
Ex-US president blames Israel for denying Gazans food, water; says Hamas won elections 'fair and square'
WASHINGTONBlaming Israel, again: Former US President Jimmy Carter says that following his meetings with Hamas leaders the group offered a truce in Gaza but Israel rejected the offer. During an interview with NBC, Carter also blamed Israel for denying the citizens of Gaza basic supplies such as water and food.


"I think it was productive, because all the things that we asked Hamas to do, they basically agreed to do," Carter said, referring to his recent trip. "One was to have a total ceasefire just in Gaza alone, where before they had said it must be Gaza and the West Bank as well. So they preferred to have a ceasefire, and announced it publicly after we left. Israel unfortunately rejected the ceasefire from Hamas.


"There's no way to have peace in the Middle East without bringing the Palestinians back together if Hamas represents at least half of the Palestinian people," Carter added, citing the 2006 elections the United States insisted be held. "Hamas won the election fair and square. They got a majority of seats in the Parliament."


"But then the United States and Israel declared that there wouldn't be a Palestinian united government, so they declared that Hamas was a terrorist organization. They refused to negotiate with them. They refused to give food and water and electricity and other supplies to people under Hamas' leadership in Gaza, and that broke the whole situation down," he said.


'Assad hopeful'

Carter also criticized the US, which he said was preventing the renewal of the peace process between Israel and Syria. Carter said he met with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and the latter told him that he had been distanced from peace talks by the US Government, but was now hopeful talks would be resumed.


In an article published by the New York Times, Carter said that Hamas would accept any truce agreed upon by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, on the condition that it had been approved by the elected parliament. Carter also said Hamas would disarm its military wing in Gaza if a non-political security force was established in the Strip.


Referring to kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, Carter said that if Israel were to agree to the list of prisoners that the Palestinians demanded be released, and freed the first batch, Shalit would be transferred to Egypt until the other prisoners were released.


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