Israel's ambassador to the United Nations on Thursday called former President Jimmy Carter "a bigot" for meeting with the leader of the militant Hamas movement in Syria.
Carter, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, "went to the region with soiled hands and came back with bloody hands after shaking the hand of Khaled Mashaal, the leader of Hamas," Ambassador Dan Gillerman told a luncheon briefing for reporters.
The diplomat was questioned about problems facing his country during a wide-ranging discussion with reporters lasting more than an hour. The briefing was sponsored by The Israel Project, a Washington-based, media-oriented advocacy group.
The ambassador's harsh words for Carter came days after the ex-president met with Mashaal for seven hours in Damascus to negotiate a cease-fire with Gaza's Hamas rulers. Carter then called Mashaal on Monday to try to get him to agree to a one-month truce without conditions, but the Hamas leader rejected the idea.
The ambassador called last weekend's encounter "a very sad episode in American history."
He said it was "a shame" to see Carter, who had done "good things" as a former president, "turn into what I believe to be a bigot."
Telephone calls by The Associated Press to two Atlanta numbers for Carter were not immediately returned Thursday.
Gillerman said Hamas is armed and trained by Iran, whose president once called for Israel to be "wiped off the map."
"The real danger, the real problem is not the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the real threat is Iran," he said.
Gillerman spoke with reporters from around the world at the Times Square offices of a New York law firm on the day Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was in Washington meeting with President Bush.
The ambassador said he was "quite optimistic" about the chances for an Israeli-Palestinian agreement because Abbas and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert have met more times than any previous leaders of the two sides.
"I believe they've gone deeper and further than any other Israeli or Palestinian leader, and I believe that there is a very good chance (for a settlement)," he said.
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Carter is a bigot
Amen to that, brother! Jimmy Carter is lower than Kentucky's own Jim Bunning when it comes to politicians.