Former US President Jimmy Carter has failed in his self-appointed mission to obtain information about the three Israeli soldiers who were kidnapped in 2006 by Arab terrorists in cross-border raids in the north and south.
Carter informed Shas Minister of Industry, Trade and Labor, Eli Yishai on Monday that he was unable to discover any additional information about IDF reservists Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev.
Israel News Photo: Flash 90
The two men were kidnapped by Hizbullah terrorists in a deadly cross-border raid that together with a simultaneous Katyusha missile attack on northern Israeli communities ignited the Second Lebanon War. Their whereabouts and condition have been unknown since their abduction, although it is believed that at least one of the two soldiers was seriously injured during the attack.
Regarding Shalit, Carter met with in Damascus with Hamas politburo chief, Khaled Mashaal over the weekend. Carter reported that Mashaal claims the IDF Corporal is in good health and may be allowed to send a letter to his parents.
A letter from Gilad which is believed to be authentic was passed to Shalit's parents in Israel by Egyptian officials in February, while negotiations renewed over a possible prisoner swap deal for his freedom. The Israeli government debates renewed over whether to release long-jailed terrorist murderers with Jewish blood on their hands at about the same time.
Hamas has refused to allow International Red Cross agency attempts to communicate with him, in violation of the Geneva Convention. Two audio tapes have been released, but voice experts have said the statements were made under pressure.
"I asked Carter to tell Hamas officials to let the letter be sent during the Passover holiday," said Yishai, "but it appears that it will be sent later."
Hamas terrorists have made numerous promises regarding Shalit since his abduction in June 2006; all have been broken. His current whereabouts and condition are unknown.
Carter carried several other messages back to Israel from the Damascus-based Hamas terrorist chief, including a statement that Hamas might be willing to accept the right of Israel to "live as a neighbor next door in peace."
The former US president also said that Mashaal insisted he will not try to undermine efforts by Palestinian Authority Chairman and rival Fatah faction leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) to reach a final status agreement with Israel for a new state within Israel's current borders.
Hamas has maintained a stranglehold on Gaza since its forces ousted Fatah's PA "security troops" in a civil war that ended last June. The clashes destroyed the fragile PA "unity government" and left PA-controlled areas of Judea and Samaria in the hands of Fatah and Gaza under the strong arm of Hamas terrorists.
Carter was asked asked repeatedly by the US State Department not to meet with Hamas, inasmuch as the US has officially classified the group as an outlawed terrorist entity. Carter ignored the requests.
His staff was unable to secure meetings with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Tzipi Livni, both of whom politely sidestepped requests by his staff for appointments, citing packed schedules.
The official Israeli government position on his disregard for official US policy was clear, however: Jerusalem did not allow the former president to visit Hamas leaders in Gaza, as he had hoped. Instead, he traveled to Cairo to meet with senior terrorists, where he also addressed students at the American University as well.
Commenting on Israel and America's unwillingness to approve of meetings with a terrorist entity committed to the destruction of the Jewish State, Carter told the Israel Council on Foreign Relations on Monday, "The problem is not that I met with Hamas in Syria. The problem is that Israel and the United States refuse to meet with someone who must be involved."