At least since 2003, dozens of public officials endorsed Hamas as a legitimate political entity, deserving recognition and inclusion in diplomatic processes. Did these public figures care that they were supporting an organization that unalterably favored Israel’s destruction and the killing of Jews?
Ken Stein, November 11, 2023
November 3, 2003 – Jimmy Carter “Current U.S.-Israeli strategies must change. Demanding an end to all terrorism before final negotiations only guarantees they never happen. Such extremist groups as Hamas do not want a negotiated settlement and are out of the Palestinian Authority’s control.” Jimmy Carter, “Middle East Accord Offers Best Chance for Peace.” USA Today. Jimmy Carter. https://www.cartercenter.org/news/documents/doc1525.html
February 20, 2006 – Jimmy Carter and Wolf Blitzer (Situation Room) “So your basic point is that you’re still leaving out the hope that Hamas will change, will accept the conditions, renounce terrorism, accept Israel’s right to exist. Is that right?
Jimmy Carter: That’s my hope. I can’t say that’s my expectation, yet. But it’s certainly a possibility. I’ve seen it happen in the past.” And of course, the dream of some ridiculous Hamas leaders and other countries to take over Israel is obviously fallacious and incomprehensible. So, I think what’s going to happen now is that the more pragmatic leaders of Hamas, including Haniyeh, who is the new prime minister, I think will prevail and the Palestinian people will prevail. “The Situation Room: Interview with Jimmy Carter.” CNN. Wolf Blitzer with Jimmy Carter. https://transcripts.cnn.com/show/sitroom/date/2006-02-20/segment/01
March 1, 2006 – Jimmy Carter “My hope is that there will be a moderate position in Hamas in the future. I don’t have any way to think that it will. I’m not naive about that. And I don’t think that they are going to disavow their long-term commitments, which the PLO never did until Oslo, that Israel must withdraw from the occupied territories. My guess is that the best we could ever hope for in Hamas or other organizations of that kind is to adopt the proposal that is shared unanimously by the Arab nations, promulgated by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, approved at the Fez Summit, and also endorsed by President Bush, which I quoted, and that is that Israel withdraw from the occupied territories in exchange for peace of a permanent nature. I don’t see that as at all likely. But the road map calls for the border of Israel to be modified by good faith talks between the two.” Jimmy Carter, Council of Foreign Relations, March 1, 2006.
November/December 2006 – Richard N. Haass “U.S. officials ought to sit down with Hamas officials, much as they have with the leaders of Sinn Féin, some of whom also led the Irish Republican Army. Such exchanges should be viewed not as rewarding terrorist tactics but as instruments with the potential to bring behavior in line with U.S. policy.”
“The New Middle East,” Foreign Affairs, November/December 2006,
May 3, 2007 — Jimmy Carter at UC Irvine asked if Israel and the U.S. should recognize and negotiate with a Hamas-led Palestinian government: “Yes, I think they (Israel and the U.S.) should. No need for Israel to negotiate with Hamas, but to negotiate with the Unity government that comprises all the citizens of the occupied territories that have been formed as a result of an honest and free and open election.” https://www.socsci.uci.edu/files/announcements/carter/selected_questions.htm
July 17, 2007, Professors Norton and Sara Roy, “Despite its history of anti-Israeli terrorism, Hamas has effectively suspended suicide bombings since its 2006 political victory.” Augustus Richard Norton and Sara Roy, “Yes, You Can Work with Hamas,” Christian Science Monitor, July 17, 2007. https://www.csmonitor.com/2007/0717/p09s02-coop.html
July 18, 2007, Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, “I think it’d [a new American peace initiative] have to find some way to talk to Hamas. They’re not going to go away and we have to remember that they enjoy considerable support among the Palestinian people. They won an election that we insisted upon having. And so, as unpleasant a group as they may be, as distasteful as I find some of their positions, I think that through the Quartet or through some means, Hamas has to be engaged.” Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, NPR interview, July 18, 2007. https://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=12067202
April 16, 2008 – Senator Barack Obama on Carter’s meeting with Hamas Obama said he has an “unshakable commitment” to help protect Israel from “bitter enemies. That’s why I have a fundamental difference with President Carter and disagree with his decision to meet with Hamas. We must not negotiate with a terrorist group intent on Israel’s destruction. We should only sit down with Hamas if they renounce terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist and abide by past agreements.” And “Hamas is not a state. Hamas is a terrorist organization.” Ellen Wulfhorst, “Obama criticizes es-President Carter’s Hamas meeting, Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-politics-mideast-obama-idUSN1636948020080416
April 17, 2008 – Jimmy Carter in a speech in Cairo, Carter denounces Israeli policy on Gaza, claiming that Israel is starving Gazans to death by forcing them to live on fewer calories per day than those in the poorest parts of Africa. While in Cairo he also met with Hamas leaders who used the meetings to legitimize their movement.” Isabel Kershner, “Palestinian Official Says Talks With Israelis Yield Little,” The New York Times,
April 18, 2008 – Defying State Department, Israeli, and congressional pleas, Jimmy Carter meets with the exiled leader of Hamas in Damascus in a session closed to reporters.” Robert F. Worth, “Defying Israel, Carter Meets Hamas Leader,” New York Times, Apr. 19, 2008.
April 20, 2008 – “Jimmy Carter acknowledged that Hamas still refused to renounce violence, to recognize explicitly Israel’s right to exist, or to recognize previous peace accords. The movement refused to speed up the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli corporal captured two years ago, though it did tell Carter it would let the soldier write a new letter to his parents to prove he was still alive. “While Carter condemned attacks by Hamas as ‘despicable’ and ‘acts of terrorism’ in his speech yesterday, he sounded encouraged by his talks, which included meetings with the most powerful Hamas leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, and its exiled head, Khaled Mishaal.” Rory McCarthy, “Hamas accepts two-state-idea, says Carter,” The Guardian, April 21, 2008. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/apr/22/israelandthepalestinians.usa
April 22, 2008 – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice claims that Carter’s Middle East trip and meetings with Hamas were not helpful and that U.S. had not given Carter the “green or even amber light” to speak with Hamas. A Carter spokesperson claimed that Carter had met with Hamas officials in both 1996 and 2006 prior to this most recent trip. Steven R. Weisman and Robert F. Worth, “Administration Disavows Carter’s Trip,” New York Times, April 23, 2008.
April 23, 2008 – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Bush II Administration disavows Carter’s trip Condoleezza Rice: “We counseled President Carter against going to the region and particularly against having contacts with Hamas…wanted to make sure there would be no confusion and there would be no sense that Hamas was somehow a party to peace negotiations.” “On Monday Mr. Carter said in Israel that he had obtained a significant concession regarding negotiations over a future Palestinian state, declaring that Hamas leaders said they would respect the creation of a Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza if it were ratified by a referendum of all Palestinians. But Israeli officials said that was no concession, in that Hamas subsequently said it would not recognize Israel and would insist on a right of Palestinian refugees to return to their pre-1948 homes, effectively ending Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.” Steven Weisman and Robert Worth, “Administration disavow Carter’s Trip,” NYT, https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/23/washington/23diplo.html
April 28, 2008 – Jimmy Carter writes an op-ed in the NYT defending his recent trip to the Middle East and specifically his meetings with Hamas officials which were disavowed by the U.S. government. He says that peace cannot be achieved in the ME with Palestinians divided, which requires talks with Hamas. He also lists a series of steps that he believes Hamas and Syria are willing to make for peace. Jimmy Carter, “Pariah Diplomacy,” New York Times, Apr. 28, 2008. https://www.nytimes.com/2008/04/28/opinion/28carter.html
May 12, 2008 – Barack Obama, during the presidential campaign, Obama distances himself from Carter, and rebukes his reaching out to Hamas saying that the U.S. cannot negotiate with a terrorist group bent on Israel’s destruction. Larry Rohter, “Confronting Questions, Obama Assures Jews of His Support,” New York Times, May 13, 2008.
November 17, 2008 – Daniel Levy “One can’t marginalize Gaza –it’s part of the two-state solution. And we’re most certainly going to have to bring Hamas inside the tent to make this work. I think that’s doable and the first imperative for the U.S. is to leave the Palestinians to do their own internal politics, and to reconstitute their own reformed national movement. I’m not suggesting U.S. mediation, but the removal of what amounts to a U.S. veto on Palestinian national reconciliation. Our basic demand from a newly unified Palestinian national leadership should be: no use of terror and agreement on an authorized interlocutor for U.S.-mediated peace talks with Israel.” Jeffrey Goldberg, “Daniel Levy on Obama, Netanyahu and the Settlements,” The Atlantic, November 17, 2008, https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2008/11/daniel-levy-on-obama-netanyahu-and-the-settlements/9075/
2009 –Zbigniew Brzezinski, Chuck Hagel, Brent Scowcroft, et al.
“A legitimate, unified and empowered Palestinian side to negotiate with Israel is of
importance if any agreement is to be reached and implemented. Direct U.S. engagement with Hamas may not now be practical, but shutting out the movement and isolating Gaza has only made it stronger and Fatah weaker. Israel itself has acknowledged Hamas is simply too important and powerful to be ignored. In brief, shift the U.S. objective from ousting Hamas to modifying its behavior, offer it inducements that will enable its more moderate elements to prevail, and cease discouraging third parties from engaging with Hamas in ways that might help clarify
the movement’s views and test its behavior.”
Zbigniew Brzezinski (former National Security Advisor)
Chuck Hagel (former Secretary of Defense)
Lee H. Hamilton (former Democratic Congressman)
Carla Hills (former U.S. Trade Representative)
Nancy Kassebaum-Baker (former Republican Senator)
Thomas R. Pickering (former Ambassador to the U.N.)
Brent Scowcroft (former National Security Advisor)
Theodore C. Sorensen (former White House counsel)
Paul A. Volcker (former Federal Reserve Chairman)
James D. Wolfensohn (former President of the World Bank)
From a policy paper submitted to President Obama under the title A Last Chance For A Two-State Solution: Israel-Palestine Agreement: A Bipartisan Statement on U.S. Middle East Peacemaking, 2009 https://www.usmep.us/bipartisan_recommendations/A_Last_Chance_for_a_Two-State_Israel-Palestine_Agreement.pdf/
January 31, 2009, Fawaz Gerges, “If it [the U.S.] won’t engage Hamas, the U.S. and Europe will never know if it can evolve into an open, tolerant and peaceful social movement.” –Dr. Fawaz Gerges, “The New Hamas,” Los Angeles Times, January 31, 2009
February 12, 2009 — Jimmy Carter interview with Akiva Eldar published in Haaretz “…there’s got to be some reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. And that can go forward, I believe, if the United States and Israel would give it our tacit support, our strong support, Hamas would accept any agreement negotiated between [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] Abu Mazen and Israeli authorities if it was submitted to the Palestinian people in a referendum and got a positive vote, I think it’s absolutely important that Hamas be involved in any sort of peace process. https://www.haaretz.com/2009-02-12/ty-article/jimmy-carter-include-hamas-in-israel-palestinian-peace-talks/0000017f-db82-d3a5-af7f-fbae98c90000
February 26, 2009, ““Peace Will Be Achieved Only by Talking to Hamas,” The Times of London, February 26, 2009 “Whether we like it or not, Hamas will not go away. Since its victory in democratic elections in 2006, Hamas has sustained its support in Palestinian society despite attempts to destroy it through economic blockades, political boycotts and military incursions.”
Michael Ancram (British House of Lords)
Lord Ashdown of Norton-sub-Hamdon (British House of Lords)
Dr Shlomo Ben-Ami (Israel Foreign Minister, 2000-01)
Betty Bigombe (former Uganda Government minister)
Alvaro de Soto (UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and Envoy to the Quartet, 2005-07).
Gareth Evans (Australian Foreign Minister, 1988-96)
Peter Gastrow (former Member of Parliament in South Africa and member of the National Peace Committee and the National Peace Secretariat)
Gerry Kelly (Sinn Féin member of the Northern Ireland Assembly)
John Hume (Leader of the Social Democratic Liberal Party of Northern Ireland, 1979-2001)
Dr Ram Manikkalingam (Founder of the Dialogue Advisory Group)
Lord Patten of Barnes (British House of Lords)
March 30, 2009, “Tomorrow evening it will be my pleasure and my honour to host an event in parliament where our friends from Hezbollah will be speaking. I have also invited friends from Hamas to come and speak as well…. And the idea that an organisation that is dedicated towards the good of the Palestinian people and bringing about long-term peace and social justice and political justice in the whole region should be labelled as a terrorist organisation by the British government is really a big, big historical mistake.” –Former Leader of the British Labour Party Jeremy Corbyn, Speech in London, March 30, 2009
June 17, 2009 — Carter and Hamas leader, Ismail Haniyah hold joint press conference—actual quote in italics “Hamas welcomed Mr. Carter’s visit as a significant step in its quest for international legitimacy… Hamas leaders have said they will never recognize Israel, and will offer only a long-term truce, not a full-fledged peace treaty, in return for a Palestinian state…Carter said, “that in order to break the Israeli-Palestinian stalemate, ‘first of all Hamas has to be accepted by the international community as a legitimate player in the future, and that is what I am trying to do today.’… Taghreed El-Khodary and Isabel Kershner, “Carter, in Gaza, Urges Hamas to Meet Demands,” New York Times, June 16, 2009. https://www.nytimes.com/2009/06/17/world/middleeast/17mideast.html
November 5, 2009 – Jimmy Carter supports the “Goldstone Report.” He compares Hamas’s unprovoked attacks against Israel “with rudimentary rockets,” to Israel’s response of “[wreaking] havoc with bombs, missiles, and ground invading forces.” Carter neglects to mention that the “rudimentary rockets” are what precipitated the conflict.: Jimmy Carter, “Goldstone and Gaza,” The New York Times, November 5, 2009.
April 12, 2002 – Peter Beinart said “(A) shift in U.S. and Israeli policy towards Hamas is long overdue. The organization has been basically observing a de-facto cease-fire for two years now, and in the last year its two top leaders, Khaled Meshal and Ismail Haniya, have both said Hamas would accept a two-state deal if the Palestinian people endorse it in a referendum.” Jeffrey Goldberg, The Atlantic, April 12, 2012. https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2012/04/peter-beinart-and-the-hamas-question/256304/
May 25, 2012 — Jimmy Carter met with Mamas leader Khalid Meshaal in Cairo – “We then had a long session with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and other members of the politburo, who are spending most of their time in Doha, Qatar. They were pleased at the Arab Spring developments, especially in Egypt, (Mohamed Morsi – associated with Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt same origins as Hamas) and hope and expect that Egypt’s new leaders will be more supportive of their cause. They seemed confident that Meshaal will remain as unchallenged Hamas leader and described the recent reconciliation agreement with Mahmoud Abbas in detail. A ‘technocrat’ government (without party affiliation) will be formed with Abbas as president and prime minister, and it will make plans for local, parliamentary, presidential, and PLO elections.” https://www.cartercenter.org/news/trip_reports/egypt-0529.html
December 17, 2012 – Professor Dov Waxman, Director of the Israel Studies Center at UCLA“Favoring a different approach to Hamas should not simply be deemed anti-Israel. On the contrary, recognizing that current American policy towards Hamas has failed and needs to be changed is in Israel’s best interests….If talking with Hamas is bad, however, then not talking with Hamas is worse….Ever since Hamas won the Palestinian parliamentary elections in January 2006, the United States, together with the European Union and Israel, have tried to overturn this democratic election result and prevent Hamas from governing the Palestinians. Needless to say, this has failed miserably.” “Hagel on Hamas: U.S. Engagement Is In Israel’s Best Interest,” The Daily Beast, 2012, https://www.thedailybeast.com/hagel-on-hamas-us-engagement-is-in-israels-best-interest
August 4, 2014 – Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson, in a joint article say that the key to resolving the 2014 Gaza conflict is world recognition of Hamas. “Concurrently, the United States and EU should recognize that Hamas is not just a military but also a political force. Hamas cannot be wished away, nor will it cooperate in its own demise. Only by recognizing its legitimacy as a political actor — one that represents a substantial portion of the Palestinian people — can the West begin to provide the right incentives for Hamas to lay down its weapons.” Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson, “How to Fix It,” Foreign Policy, Aug. 4, 2014, https://foreignpolicy.com/2014/08/04/how-to-fix-it/
May 2, 2015 — Jimmy Carter – Two sources report: regarding Khaled Mashaal, Carter said, “I don’t believe that he’s a terrorist. He’s strongly in favor of the peace process.” And, to Channel 2: “I don’t see that deep commitment on the part of Netanyahu to make concessions which [former prime minister] Menachem Begin did to find peace with his potential enemies.” TOI staff and AFP, “Carter says Hamas leader committed to peace, Netanyahu not,” Times of Israel, May 2, 2015, https://www.timesofisrael.com/carter-says-hamas-leader-committed-to-peace-netanyahu-not/; (2) “Jimmy Carter: Hamas leader favors peace, Netanyahu not committed to 2 states,” JTA, May 2, 2015. https://www.jta.org/2015/05/04/israel/jimmy-carter-hamas-leader-favors-peace-netanyahu-not-committed-to-2-states
October 2, 2018 – Martin Indyk, Former US Ambassador to Israel and Middle East Adviser to President Bill Clinton, “ Israel should negotiate with Hamas. Hamas doesn’t want a final agreement. It doesn’t want to settle with Israel. Doesn’t want to recognize Israel’s right to exist. But it’s happy to have a long-term ceasefire or autonomy and build up its autonomous would-be state in Gaza. The deal could be much easy—more easily done with Hamas.” https://www.cfr.org/event/twenty-five-years-after-oslo-accords