WASHINGTON (JTA) — Jimmy Carter discussed the possible release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit with Hamas leaders.
In a report on his Dec. 5-16 trip to Paris, Lebanon and Syria posted on the Carter Center Web site on Thursday, the former president wrote that he met with Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal "and his fellow Hamas politburo members." Among the topics they discussed, he wrote, was "formulas for prisoner exchange to obtain the release of Corporal Shalit."
Shalit, an IDF corporal at the time who has since been promoted to staff sergeant, has been held hostage by Hamas since June 25, 2006, when he was captured in a cross-border raid.
Carter said he also spoke to Meshaal and other Hamas leaders about the Arab peace initiative and "life under the Israeli sanctions," among other subjects.
"Like the Syrians, they are patient, relatively satisfied with the status quo, and putting all their eggs in Obama’s basket," wrote Carter. "We had to caution them about expecting too much of an immediate change in U.S. Middle East policy."