Lieberman: Carter Is 'Naive' at Best

Thursday , April 17, 2008



Former President Jimmy Carter met another top Hamas official Thursday in a Cairo hotel and planned to meet more officials in Syria Friday, drawing the ire of dozens of U.S. lawmakers.

Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., told FOX News that "at best, President Carter is being naive" in trying to negotiate with avowed terrorists. "There is a long list of people who thought they could reason with dictators and killers, going back to Neville Chamberlain and Hitler in the 1930s, but it has been shown to be absolutely wrong."

Rep. Sue Myrick, R-N.C., told FOX News that she advocates revoking Carter's passport and supports a measure to withdraw all federal funding from his Georgia-based institution, the Carter Center.

"We have a policy in this country about Hamas and he is deliberately undermining that policy," Myrick said. "Why should we support his center when he will not support his government?"

Both the United States and Israel have designated Hamas a terror organization and refuse to negotiate with it.

In advance of Carter's planned meeting Friday with Hamas chief Khaled Meshal, 30 congressmen introduced a bipartisan resolution condemning Hamas for terrorist activities, including the murder of 26 Americans.

The resolution, sponsored by Reps. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., and Shelley Berkley, D-Nev., was intended as a warning shot at Carter and follows letters from more than 50 congressmen urging the former president to abandon his visit to the Hamas head, who lives in exile in Syria.

In the face of such criticism, Carter traveled to Cairo to meet with Mahmoud Zahar, who controls Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip. Zahar wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post Thursday decrying the "hideous straitjacket of apartheid" in Gaza and compared Israel to Nazi Germany.

"Sixty-five years ago, the courageous Jews of the Warsaw ghetto rose in defense of their people," he wrote. "We Gazans, living in the world's largest open-air prison, can do no less."

The Washington Post, in an editorial, criticized Carter for "lending what is left of his prestige to an avowed terrorist," and suggested that he not grant "recognition and political sanction to a leader or a group that advocates terrorism."

Rep. Joe Knollenberg, R-Mich., introduced legislation Wednesday to strip the Carter Center of taxpayer support because of his meetings with terrorists. Rep. Bill Shuster, R-Pa. presented a non-binding resolution that would urge former presidents to abandon "freelance diplomacy," in a direct response to Carter's visit.

Carter's visit to Cairo, during which he also met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, followed Gaza's worst day of violence in a month, in which at least 20 Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers died.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the violence cast doubt on Egyptian cease-fire efforts.

"There can be no discussion of a truce in the midst of these crimes," Zuhri said, threatening revenge against Israel.

Egypt's efforts already are complicated by the fact that Hamas favors destruction of Israel, Israel considers Hamas a terror group and the two do not talk to each other.

Hamas officials said their meeting with Carter would add legitimacy to their group. Carter insists it is preferable to talk to all sides of the conflict.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.