Former U.S. president Jimmy Carter completed a three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank without meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin.
Carter and a delegation from the Elders, an international group of elder statesmen who advance peace and reconciliation, also had planned to visit Gaza, but cancelled that visit at the last minute, despite Israel’s agreement to allow him to cross the border to the coastal strip.
Carter did meet with former Israeli president Shimon Peres, however.
Israeli media had reported that Netanyahu and Rivlin turned down requests for meetings due to Carter’s anti-Israel stances; Carter reportedly said he did not request meetings because he knew he would be turned down.
During a meeting Saturday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Carter called for Palestinian parliamentary and presidential elections in the West Bank and Gaza to reunify the Palestinians, Abbas has remained in office despite his term ending in 2009, due to the lack of an election. Abbas’ Fatah Party and Hamas signed a unity agreement last year,
“We hope that sometime we’ll see elections all over the Palestinian area and east Jerusalem and Gaza and also in the West Bank,” he said Saturday in Ramallah.
Carter called the lack of reconstruction in Gaza following Israel’s operation there last summer “intolerable.”
“Eight months after a devastating war, not one destroyed house has been rebuilt, and people cannot live with the respect and dignity they deserve,” he said.
Carter, who wrote a book titled “Palestine: Peace not Apartheid,” has called for the labeling of goods that originate in the West Bank, and said that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was among the factors that led to the deadly attacks in January in Paris.