News Release

Dialogue with Hamas

Reuters reports: “Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter met leaders from the Islamist movement Hamas from the besieged Gaza Strip at a Cairo hotel on Thursday, his second meeting with Hamas members in three days.”

AFP recently reported that Jimmy Carter “said his most recent talks came after the group’s win in January 2006 elections. At that time, he said Hamas expressed willingness to declare a ceasefire in Gaza and the West Bank and allow Abbas to negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians. ‘I intend to find out if these are their prevailing thoughts now,’ he said.”

Today, the Washington Post published a piece by Mahmoud al-Zahar, one of the Hamas leaders Carter met with in Cairo; Zahar is a surgeon and founder of Hamas “who is foreign minister in the government of Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, which was elected in January 2006.” He writes: “President Jimmy Carter’s sensible plan to visit the Hamas leadership this week brings honesty and pragmatism to the Middle East while underscoring the fact that American policy has reached its dead end.”

RICHARD VIETS
Viets is a former U.S. ambassador to Jordan and Tanzania. He said today: “I’m strongly in favor of a person of Carter’s experience and knowledge dealing with these people.”

CECILIE SURASKY
Surasky is communications director for the group Jewish Voice for Peace. She said today: “Jimmy Carter is absolutely right and he’s actually reflecting the will of the majority of Israelis. A recent poll found two-thirds of Israelis want their government to negotiate with Hamas — it’s the only opportunity for lasting peace.

“Hamas was duly elected by the Palestinians. It doesn’t matter what we think of their political positions. It’s an old cliché, but it’s true: You talk to your enemies. The current belligerent stance by the U.S. and Israeli governments of refusing to talk to Hamas has meant more deaths for Israelis and Palestinians. If you want to stop that, you talk.”
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The following are in Gaza, which is seven hours ahead of U.S. ET:

AMJAD SHAWA
Shawa is Palestinian Non-Governmental Organization Network coordinator for Gaza.
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SAMEH HABEEB
Habeeb writes for various media outlets. He is also coordinator of the Popular Committee to End the Siege in Gaza.
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For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167