The day after the election, I went and met with Mahmoud Abbas, who is the leader of the Palestinians. He's their president. He's the head of the PLO, which is the only organization, by the way, that the United States or Israel recognizes, the PLO, in which there's not a single Hamas member. Hamas has nothing to do with the PLO.
And after I met with Abbas to talk about a unity government, which he rejected, then I met with a Hamas leader. He's a medical doctor who was elected. He's now in prison, by the way. But he said -- when I insisted that they recognize Israel, he said, "Mr. President, which Israel are you talking about? Are you talking about the Israel that's occupying our land? Are you talking about the Israel that has built a wall around our people? Are you talking about an Israel that deprives us of basic human rights to move from one place to another in our own land?" He said, "We can't recognize that Israel."
But later, the prime minister of the Hamas government, Haniyeh, said, "We are strongly in favor of direct talks between Mahmoud Abbas, the head of the PLO and the head of the government, and the prime minister of Israel, Olmert." And he said, "If they reach an agreement in their discussions that's acceptable to the Palestinian people, we will accept it, also. Hamas will."
Carter ignores uncomfortable facts that he doesn't want to acknowledge, including the very recent Hamas refusal to recognize Israel's right to existence (it's been one of the stumbling blocks in the current Palestinian talks over a unity government). He has a very annoying mixture of naivete and sanctimony. I'm reminded again of why I decided not to vote for him in 1980 - when his UN ambassador Andrew Young met with Arafat, when it was official U.S. policy not to talk to the PLO, a policy that I certainly agreed with at the time, since the PLO was at that time as intransigent as Hamas is today. And with the title of his new book, "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," he certainly indicates where his sympathies lie.