Former American President Jimmy Carter went against both governments of Israel and the US when he met with senior Hamas leaders Thursday after the Jewish state refused to allow him to enter Gaza.
Washington and Tel Aviv said that Carter’s meeting was not in line with their governments’ view that Hamas was a terrorist organization.
The visit to Egypt highlighted the gulf that exists between Carter’s peace efforts and the official policy of the two regional powers.
“My country, the political arena of my country, is almost 100 per cent supportive of the Israeli position,” Carter said. “You never hear any debates on both sides much, and most of the information is predicated on that sort of original premise.”
The former president, who helped broker a peace deal between Egypt and Israel during his presidency, told an audience at the American University in Cairo that he had met with Hamas leaders Mahmoud Al Zahar and Saeed Seyam for about three hours.
Both officials had traveled to the Egyptian capital Wednesday in order to meet with Carter, who had originally planned to see them in Gaza.
Carter said both figures appeared willing to accept a peace agreement with Israel if it were to be approved through “a referendum of the Palestinian community”.
“It is my dream and my hope that someday in my lifetime, hopefully this year, we’ll see a major breakthrough,” Carter said.
He also met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak before the Hamas meeting.
Carter, 83, is on a nine-day “study mission” throughout the region as he continues his “ongoing effort to support peace, democracy and human rights in the region ” his Website said. Panapress.