Former US President Jimmy Carter called Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal a strong proponent of the peace process today and said he wasn’t meeting with Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu because it would be “a waste of time.”
The president, who has been visiting Israel and the West Bank, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas today but didn’t meet with Netanyahu or President Reuven Rivlin.
He told reporters that he didn’t ask to meet with Netanyahu or his government, and never has, because it would be a “waste of time.” He told Channel 2 in an interview broadcast today that he requested to meet Rivlin, but the president’s office declined.
Israel officials said last week that Netanyahu and Rivlin had refused invitations to meet with Carter, who was described by an Israeli diplomatic source as “a disaster for Israel,” who holds “anti-Israel positions.”
Carter, who cancelled a planned visit to Gaza on this trip, said today he “deplored” criminal acts by members of Hamas, but said he was looking to support moderate members of the group, which he said wasn’t a terrorist organization.
“I don’t believe that he’s a terrorist. He’s strongly in favor of the peace process,” Carter said of Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal. He said Mashaal expressed interest in the Saudis hosting a “peace meeting” and that the Doha-based Hamas leader would recognize Israel’s right to exist based on the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative.
Netanyahu, on the other hand, wasn’t “in favor of a two-state solution,” said the former president, who orchestrated the peace accords between Israel and Egypt in 1979.
“I don’t see that deep commitment on the part of Netanyahu to make concessions which [former prime minister] Menachem Begin did to find peace with his potential enemies,” Carter told Channel 2.
Read more at Times of Israel.