WATCH: Carter tells a group of Israelis that Hamas leader Khaled Mashal is not a terrorist, insinuates that Netanyahu is not strong or honest, and Hamas is willing to recognize Israel.
Speaking in Jerusalem, former US president Jimmy Carter on Saturday urged Israel to work toward a diplomatic resolution to the Palestinian conflict and end its military presence in the Palestinian territories.
However, he sounded a less-than-optimistic note regarding the Israeli leadership’s commitment to these goals.
“We didn’t ask for any meeting with Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu or his cabinet we have never met in the past and this time we didn’t ask because it would be a waste of time,” said Carter, a member of The Elders, an independent Group of global leaders.
“We did request to meet with Rivlin but he decided because of political considerations and we deeply regret this,” the retired official further added.
Earlier in the day, Carter held a joint news conference with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in the political capital Ramallah in the West Bank.
He urged the Palestinians to hold elections to end the de facto division of the West Bank and the Islamist-run Gaza Strip.
“We hope that sometime we’ll see elections all over the Palestinian area and east Jerusalem and Gaza and also in the West Bank,”
No election has been held in the Palestinian territories for nearly a decade.
Abbas’s presidential mandate expired in 2009, but he remains in office since there has been no election. The Palestinian parliament has also not met since 2007.
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In 2006, a year after Abbas was elected, Hamas won the most recent Palestinian legislative elections. Differences between Abbas’s Fatah party and the Islamist Hamas then led to the so-called “inqissam,” or division.
Despite the rivals signing a reconciliation agreement a year ago, Hamas is reluctant to hand over power in Gaza to an independent Palestinian unity government they formed.
Carter had planned to go to Gaza, but the visit was cancelled at the last moment.
He said it would be “very important” for “full implementation of the agreement reached between Hamas and Fatah.”
Carter was accompanied by Norway’s former prime minister Gro Harlem Brundtland. She said that despite not being able to visit the impoverished Palestinian enclave devastated by last summer’s war with Israel, “we have had a chance to discuss with people who know the issues in Gaza.”
Full English interview begins after introduction in Hebrew – Channel 2 News
Reconstruction of the territory has not begun eight months after the end of the conflict, the third in six years.
The Elders group said ahead of the trip by Carter and Brundtland that they were visiting “in a renewed push to promote the two-state solution and to address the root causes of the conflict” in the Middle East.
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