Babylon & Beyond

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ISRAEL: Carter denied security?

April 14, 2008 |  3:03 pm


Former President Jimmy Carter visited the southern Israeli town of Sderot on Monday and decried the rockets launched regularly by militants in the nearby Gaza Strip as "a despicable crime."

Carter, who penned the 2006 book "Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid," has received a decidedly mixed response in Israel. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said he was too busy to meet with the Nobel Peace Prize winner and one Sderot resident reportedly yelled at Carter, "Mr. President, we are not apartheid here!"

But the day's events were somewhat overshadowed  by reports that Israeli security had refused to coordinate with Carter's Secret Service detail.

The issue quickly developed into dueling denials, with nameless Israeli officials claiming no request for security cooperation was made and nameless U.S. officials saying the request was made but ignored.

Meanwhile, the stateside reaction continues to build to Carter's Middle East tour -- particularly his plans to meet with leaders of the militant group Hamas in Damascus later this week.

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama has said he opposes meeting with Hamas officials, but said it wasn't his place to criticize Carter. Republican presidential candidate John McCain issued a statement calling  the idea "a grave and dangerous mistake."

— Ashraf Khalil in Jerusalem

Photo: U.S. President Jimmy Carter, right, listens to police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld, center, as he looks at homemade rockets that were fired at Israel at the police station in the southern Israeli city of Sderot today. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter deplored Palestinian militants' attacks on Israel as a "despicable crime" as he toured a rocket-battered town on Monday. Credit: Sebastian Scheiner/Associated Press