Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 08:29 | SYDNEY
Thursday 16 Aug 2018 | 08:29 | SYDNEY

Carter in the Middle East

7 May 2008 16:06

Guest blogger: Melissa George, an intern with the Lowy Institute's West Asia Program, worked for the Palestinian Central Elections Commission (CEC), the UN Development Program and the Geneva Centre for the Democratic Control of Armed Forces.

Jimmy Carter’s recent meeting with senior Hamas members has been controversial to say the least. In defence of his meeting, Carter stated that his intention was not to lend legitimacy to the group – which he says was realised in their 2006 electoral win – but to clarify Hamas’ position regarding Israel. Hamas’ overtures to 'accept' Israel and agree to a 10-year truce should Israel return to the pre-June 1967 boundaries is however carrying little weight among Carter’s critics. The view from Israel is that Carter is sabotaging not only the Israeli-Palestinian track in Qatar but also the wider regional framework for managing Israel-Arab relations.

In his op-ed, Carter defendes his position to include those marginalized in previous processes: 'to boycott and punish political factions or governments that refuse to accept United States mandates… makes difficult the possibility that such leaders might moderate their policies.' For Carter, reaching out to Hamas has the potential to increase the margin of understanding and agreement between Palestinians and Israelis – the aim of which is to create convergence around the most feasible solutions to the conflict. For his critics, Hamas deeply rooted ideology stands opposed to meaningful engagement.