Former President Jimmy Carter was labeled a "bigot" Thursday by Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, who told reporters here that Carter has "bloodied hands after shaking the hand of [Hamas leader] Khaled Meshal."
"I have very sad feelings following the unfortunate visit of President Carter to the region [last week]," said the ambassador, Dan Gillerman, at a meeting sponsored by The Israel Project. "It’s a shame to see this man who was a decent former president turn into what I consider a bigot."
The 83-year-old Carter, who served as president from 1977 to 1981, has become increasingly controversial over the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In 2006, he published a book, "Palestine, Peace Not Apartheid" in which he claimed that that "Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Holy Land."
Carter met with Meshal and other Hamas leaders in an effort to press for a unilateral cease-fire with Israel and more political flexibility. He said he acted as a private citizen, but Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice this week said the State Department asked Carter not to meet with Hamas; he denied receiving such advice. Hamas officials said Carter’s visit helped to give the group "legitimacy."
The U.S., the European Union and Israel have each declared Hamas a terrorist organization and have refused all contact with it.
Speaking of Carter’s trip to Damascus, Syria, to meet last Friday with Meshal, Gillerman said: "He went with soiled hands and he came back with bloodied hands after shaking hands with Khaled Meshal."
He pointed out that the meeting occurred while Hamas terrorists in the Gaza Strip continued firing rockets at civilians in Israeli cities.
"It’s very sad to see him [Carter] reach this very low point in his career," Gillerman added.