Former United States President Jimmy Carter played an active role in the Israel-Hamas exchange last week in which Israel released 20 female terrorists in exchange for a short video of hostage soldier Gilad Shalit. Carter's involvement was revealed by senior Hamas terrorist Mahmoud A-Zahar in an interview with the Arab-language daily Al-Kuds al-Arabi.
While current U.S. politicians do not speak to Hamas, which is recognized internationally as a terrorist group, Carter has had frequent contact with the group as a private citizen. He has met with Hamas's Gaza head, Ismail Haniyeh, and its foreign leader, Khaled Mashaal.
In December of 2008 Carter met with Mashaal and advised him on the price to demand in exchange for Shalit. Carter has also met with Shalit's family, and in a visit during June 2009, reported that he had delivered a letter from them to Hamas to give to the captive soldier.
Carter has pushed Israel to open direct negotiations with Hamas, and during his June visit, expressed disappointment in Israel's lack of empathy for Hamas's aims. “Unfortunately, Israelis don't remember that there are 11,700 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails... They don't understand Hamas's aim to bring about the release of at least some of these prisoners,” he said in a meeting with members of Gush Shalom.
Carter expressed sympathy with Palestinian Authority terrorists held in Israel, telling Gush Shalom members that they fared worse than Shalit during their incarceration.
Also Involved: Germany
A-Zahar also credited German mediators with bringing about the swap of terrorists for video footage. The swap proves that German involvement in the Shalit affair could bring about results, he said.