Former US President Jimmy Carter on Monday said that following a meeting with the Hamas leadership in Damascus late last week, he can confidently announce that Hamas truly desires peace with Israel. The premature claim was almost immediately rebuffed by Hamas.
Speaking at an event hosted by the Israel Council on Foreign Relations, Carter asserted that Hamas is prepared to accept a Palestinian Arab state in Gaza and the West Bank and Israel's right to exist in the rest of the land west of the Jordan River.
The self-styled peace envoy said that Hamas' top leadership had assured him that it would accept such a solution to the conflict if approved by a majority of Palestinians in a referendum.
Having established Hamas' willingness to make peace, Carter went on to imply that the only obstacle remaining was Israel's unwillingness to hold talks with the terror group.
However, almost immediately after Carter spoke, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told reporters that the American had apparently gotten ahead of himself, or misinterpreted statements by the Hamas leadership to fit his own agenda.
Hamas, said Abu Zuhri, was indeed prepared to allow a referendum on a two-state solution, but made no guarantees that it would accept the results.
And that, of course, is the primary reason Israel will not consider including Hamas in peace talks.