Former US president refused permission to enter Gaza Strip


Ramallah : Former US president Jimmy Carter said Tuesday he was refused permission to enter the Hamas-run Gaza Strip, despite his aim of paying a visit while on a well-publicized trip to the region.

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He did not say who would not allow him to enter the salient, but Israel controls the main crossing points from its territory to the enclave.

Carter made the remarks to reporters in Ramallah, where he was to meet Palestinian leaders and officials, including representatives of Hamas, which the United States boycotts because of the Islamist organization’s refusal to change its charter to recognise Israel’s right to exist.

He confirmed he would meet exiled Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Damascus, but noted: “I am not a mediator, I am not a negotiator.”

Carter arrived in Israel Sunday evening, but apart from meeting President Shimon Peres, has been given a frosty reception by Israeli leaders, in part because of his stated aim to meet Hamas leader Mashaal.

The White House also has criticised the upcoming meeting, with spokeswoman Dana Perino saying Monday that the 83-year-old Nobel Peace laureate and former president “is not representing the United States in those meetings and the president is not a supporter with having conversations with Hamas.”

Carter, who was instrumental in the negotiations which led to Israel’s first peace treaty with an Arab state, Egypt, in 1979, said Monday he hoped to broker a truce between the militant groups in the Gaza Strip, who virtually every day fire rockets and mortars at Israel, which responds with air strikes and ground raids.