Jimmy Carter’s Middle East Gambit
Posted by jonathanfryer on Thursday, 17th April, 2008
Former US President Jimmy Carter is in the Middle East, pursuing his one-man mission to inject some life into the moribund peace process, by getting dialogue going between the main protagonists. Controversially (as far as the Israelis and the current occupant of the White House are concerned), he has been photographed embracing Nasser Shaer, a Palestinian professor of comparative religion in the West Bank, who is a leading member of what is sometimes called the pragmatic wing of Hamas. Official US policy, of course, is to boycott Hamas. But Jimmy Carter is convinced that in conflict situations people have to talk. Moreover, he is going on to Damascus to meet Khaled Meshal, Hamas’s Syrian-based leader.
The Israeli government has made its deep disapproval of this trip known. But the Israeli newspaper Haaretz — so often the voice of reason in the Jewish state — has chided Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for shunning Carter on this visit. ‘Jimmy Carter has dedicated his life to humanitarian missions, to peace, to promoting democratic elections and to better understanding between enemies throughout the world,’ an editorial in Haaretz said, reminding readers that Nobel laureate Carter brokered Israel’s first peace agreement with an Arab country, Egypt.