Former US President, Jimmy Carter, arrived on Tuesday in the West Bank city of Ramallah and laid flowers on the grave of the late Palestinian President, Yasser Arafat. During the visit, Carter met a senior Hamas official, angering Israeli officials who were already upset by his privately sponsored Middle East visit. Carter also laid a wreath at the grave of the late Palestinian president, Yasser Arafat.
At a reception in the West Bank city of Ramallah, organized by Carter's office, the former president hugged Nasser Al Sha’er, a senior Hamas political figure, as he greeted him.
In the Arab culture, shaking hands and hugging between meeting men is a common custom which indicates mutual respect and honor.
“We hugged each other, and it was a warm reception", Al Sha’er told The Associated Press, "Carter asked what can he do to achieve peace in the region, and I told him the possibility for peace is high."
Carter's office refused to comment, saying the office does not discuss closed meetings.
Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman, Yigal Palmor, slammed the meeting between Carter and Al Sha’er.
The ministry said that Hamas is committed to the destruction of Israel, and that it does not promote peace and understanding.
After visiting Israel and the West Bank, Carter plans to visit Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Syria.
Carter urged the United States and Israel to stop the siege imposed on the Gaza Strip and to stop the isolation of Hamas movement, his visit and statements were slammed by both the United States and Israel.
He stated that Syria and Hamas movement will be involved in the final peace agreement, therefore, they should be involved the peace process.