More than 50 members of Congress called on Jimmy Carter not to meet with Hamas' exiled leader.Speaking of the trip, take a look at just how far the shunning of Carter goes:
The letter, signed by Democrats and Republicans, listed the names of 26 Americans killed by Hamas and urged the former U.S. president not to proceed with a planned meeting with Khaled Mashaal in Damascus.
"President Carter," the letter said, "do not meet with the man who ordered their deaths."
Among the signatories were 10 Jewish representatives, including Democrats Eliot Engel, Jerrold Nadler and Anthony Weiner of New York; Robert Wexler and Debbie Wasserman Schultz of Florida; Shelley Berkley of Nevada; Brad Sherman of California; and Barney Frank of Massachusetts. Eric Cantor, a Virginia Republican, also signed.
A separate letter to Carter urging him to cancel the meeting was sent Wednesday by Rep. Howard Berman (D-Calif.), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Rep. Gary Ackerman (D-N.Y.), chairman of the subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other Israeli government officials declined to meet Carter during his four-day stay here. He was refused permission to visit the Gaza Strip, and Shin Bet bodyguards were not even around to help his Secret Service detail.
At the heart of these slights is Carter's plan to travel to Syria to meet Hamas’ leader in exile, Khaled Meshaal -- a man blacklisted by Israel, the United States and the European Union for his orchestration of Hamas terrorism.
Carter’s itinerary has caused a stir in the United States, too, where President Bush and the three major-party presidential candidates criticized his plans to visit Meshaal.