Hamas actions don't match Carter's talk

Associated Press
Former President Carter speaks at a meeting held by the Israeli Council of Foreign Relations in Jerusalem. He said Hamas leaders were willing to accept Israel as a peaceful neighbor.

JERUSALEM --- Former President Carter said Monday that the Islamic group Hamas was willing to accept the Jewish state as a "neighbor next door," but the militants did not match their upbeat words with concrete steps to halt violence.

Hamas, which advocates Israel's destruction, instead recycled previous offers, including a 10-year truce if Israel takes the unlikely step of withdrawing from the West Bank and Jerusalem first.

Hamas has repeatedly confounded observers with its conflicting messages. Actions on the ground -- seven rockets were fired on Israel from Hamas-ruled Gaza on Monday, including one that wounded a 4-year-old boy -- contradicted the militant group's positive words about coexistence and a truce.

A leader of the Hamas military wing, which carried out a twin suicide bombing on the Gaza border Saturday, said his group would step up attacks against Israel in coming days.

The salvo of rockets came despite a last-minute phone call from Mr. Carter, urging a one-month halt to attacks on Israel, to gain some international goodwill and defuse tensions.

"I did the best I could," Mr. Carter said of his conversation with Hamas supreme leader Khaled Mashaal, pressing him to declare a one-month truce. "They turned me down, and I think they're wrong."

The Bush administration and Israel, which shun Hamas as a terrorist group, have criticized the Carter mission as misguided.