Carter says Hamas leader committed to peace, Netanyahu not

Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas shakes hands with former US president Jimmy Carter during their meeting on May 2, 2015 in the West Bank city of Ramallah. (photo credit: AFP/Pool/Abbas Momani)

Former US president Jimmy Carter called Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal a strong proponent of the peace process Saturday, and said he wasn’t meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu because it would be “a waste of time.”

The president, who has been visiting Israel and the West Bank, met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Saturday but didn’t meet with Netanyahu or President Reuven Rivlin.

He told reporters that he didn’t ask to meet with Netanyahu or his government, and never has, because it would be a “waste of time.” He told Channel 2 in an interview broadcast Saturday that he requested to meet Rivlin, but the president’s office declined.

Israel officials said last week that Netanyahu and Rivlin had refused invitations to meet with Carter, who was described by an Israeli diplomatic source as “a disaster for Israel,” who holds “anti-Israel positions.”

Carter, who cancelled a planned visit to Gaza on this trip, said Saturday he “deplored” criminal acts by members of Hamas, but said he was looking to support moderate members of the group, which he said wasn’t a terrorist organization…

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