Former President Jimmy Carter is scheduled to meet this week with Khaled Meshaal, the leader of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement, known as Hamas. I deplore his decision to meet with a group that has been identified by the United States, European Union, and Israel as a terrorist organization. Hamas deliberately targets innocent Israeli civilians on a daily basis by indiscriminately firing rockets into their cities. Mr. Carter should know better than this.
I respect President Carter’s desire for peace in the Middle East. He helped broker the 1979 Egypt-Israel peace treaty, but this situation is different. The Egyptian and Israeli Governments were seeking a peace deal; Hamas is not seeking peace. Since Hamas won the Palestinian elections in 2006, it has refused to recognize Israel’s right to exist. We are not talking about borders, but the fundamental right for a country to exist in the world. The Israeli Government has agreed upon a two-state solution that would create a state of Palestine, but Hamas refuses even this basic framework. The long term goal of Hamas has always been, and remains, to annihilate Israel.
While efforts to reach a peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority are laudable, Mr. Carter is misguided to believe that he can do so when one party is opposed to his participation. The Israeli Government has refused to meet with Mr. Carter on his trip and has voiced their opposition to his planned meeting with Hamas.
Mr. Carter’s decision to act unilaterally and meet with Hamas’s top political leader sends the wrong message. It says to Hamas that killing innocent civilians and consistently planning and conducting terrorist attacks will lead to reward and recognition by the international community. This will not bring about peace, but will set back any chance of reaching a peace agreement. Hamas must understand that there are certain rules that you must follow if you are going to be recognized by the international community. The targeting of civilians through the use of terrorist attacks is not one of those rules.
On top of all this, Mr. Carter, as a former President, has a Secret Service detail that is being paid out of our hard earned money. If Mr. Carter is going to travel to Syria, a country on the United States State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism and meet with the leader of a terrorist organization, the American people should not pay a penny for his security.
And one other thing, someone needs to remind Mr. Carter that he is a former President. Whether you agree with the policies of President Bush or not, he is the current President of the United States and he has the Constitutional authority to conduct foreign policy. That power does not continue when the President leaves office. Mr. Carter is showing brazen disrespect for the Office of the Presidency by refusing the wishes of the President and the State Department when they have asked him not to meet with Hamas.
That is why I am calling on Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to revoke former President Jimmy Carter’s passport. He needs to understand that the international community has spoken and he should respect their will and wisdom to deal with a terrorist organization that seeks to destroy a democratic ally of the United States. Mr. Carter has a lot of influence as a peace negotiator and his decision will undermine his credibility with peaceful, democratic states, while additionally undermining the credibility of the International Community when dealing with rogue, terrorist organizations.