Prime Minister Ehud Olmert turned down a request from former American president Jimmy Carter for a meeting during his visit to Israel next week, ostensibly due to his plans to follow the visit with a meeting with the head of Hamas.
The Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni both said that their schedules will not allow a meeting, but an anonymous Israeli official told the Washington Times, "You draw your own conclusions." Other officials have expressed anger at Carter's proposed meeting with Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal.
Even US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been openly critical of the former president's plans to meet Mashaal.
However, President Shimon Peres, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Israel Is Our Home (Yisrael Beiteinu) leader Knesset Member Avigdor Lieberman have scheduled to meet with Carter, whose recent book compares Israeli policies on the Palestinian Authority (PA) with former apartheid policies in South Africa.
Carter is scheduled to visit Sderot as well as Fatah PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah before traveling to Syria for his meeting with the Islamist terror chief.