The Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) broke with standard operating procedures this week when it turned down an American Secret Service request for assistance in protecting visiting former US President Jimmy Carter.
The Secret Service usually works together with Israeli agencies to provide security for visiting US dignitaries. But the Israel Security Agency, which falls under the authority of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office, informed the Americans that because of Carter's agenda, the former president would not be receiving any local assistance, reported Ha'aretz.
Carter's requests to meet with Olmert, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu were also unceremoniously rejected. The only Israeli leader to meet with Carter was Shimon Peres.
The absence of an Israeli welcome mat was the result of Carter's announced intention to meet with overall Damascus-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashal during his trip to the region. Carter said he wanted to gauge Hamas' readiness to accept a Saudi-authored Arab League peace proposal, and take what he learned back to Washington in order to influence the Bush Administration's policies vis-a-vis the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.
Carter ignored decades of evidence that Hamas and other Arab states and organizations opposed to Israel's existence regularly say one thing to Western leaders, and something quite different to their own people. He also failed to take into account that Hamas has of late been warming up to Yasser Arafat's strategy of concluding an interim peace deal in order to gain additional Israel concessions, while putting the final conquest of the Jewish state off to a later date.