JERUSALEM – Former President Jimmy Carter passed a message to Hamas from the Obama administration, according to senior sources in the Islamist group.
The sources did not disclose the content of the purported message or whether the communication was written or oral. They spoke on condition of anonymity, because they said Hamas had not yet reached a decision on officially releasing the information they were divulging.
Separately, in an interview with WND today, Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’ chief political adviser in Gaza, refused to confirm or deny that any message was passed to his group from the White House.
Youssef said, however, Carter is the “right person” to serve as a middle man between Hamas and the Obama administration.
“If we have anything to communicate, Carter will be the right person to convey messages from the movement (Hamas) to this (Obama) administration or from the administration to the movement,” said Yousef, speaking from Gaza.
Yousef told WND he spent three hours with Carter today, holding private meetings and also showing the former president areas of Gaza that were damaged during Israel’s 22-day campaign against Hamas that ended in January.
“He promised he will write a report to explain what really is happening in Gaza,” said Yousef.
Separately, Mushir al-Masri, a member of Hamas’ parliament and a spokesman for the Islamist group, said in a joint interview with WND and Israel’s Ynetnews.com, “We know Carter is not acting alone. He is acting as part of the large American system.”
Masri refused to confirm or deny whether Carter passed any message to his group from Obama.
Still, he claimed Hamas has “excellent relations with elements in the circle of the decision making in the U.S. administration.”
“We are appreciating the change in the attitude in the U.S. toward Hamas,” he said.
The White House did not immediately respond to a WND request for comment on the report of the Obama administration passing a message to Hamas.
‘Carter to help us get open relationship with U.S.’
Both Masri and Hamas’ political adviser Yousef strongly denied an earlier report in an Israeli media outlet claiming an assassination plot against Carter was foiled at the entrance to the Gaza Strip. The report claimed there is some suspicion extremists in Gaza linked to al-Qaida were behind the attempt.
“This report is nonsense,” said Yousef. “Nobody in Gaza will touch this man. He is on a noble mission. Everyone here respects him.”
Yousef continued that if extremists indeed tried to disturb Carter’s visit then Hamas’ so-called security forces “are fully capable of dealing with such a threat.”
Meanwhile, FoxNews.com reported it learned Carter intends to ask the U.S. to remove Hamas from its official list of terrorist organizations.
Yousef responded to the online report telling WND he is not aware Carter will specifically make such a request.
He said, however, Carter communicated to Hamas that “one way or another” the Islamist group must do its best to meet the three conditions previously set out by the U.S. for the opening of dialogue.
Those conditions, expressed twice by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, are Hamas’ renouncement of violence, recognition of Israel, and agreement to abide by previous PLO commitments.
Yousef said Carter told his group “he will do his best to help to be sure Hamas will meet those conditions one way or another.”
“We have reservations about recognizing Israel,” Yousef said.
Hamas’ charter calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel. The group is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, deadly shootings and rocket attacks against Israeli civilian population centers.