Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Reuven Rivlin have turned down invitations to meet with former US president Jimmy Carter during his upcoming visit to Israel over his “anti-Israel” views.
Both the president and prime minister declined the invitations after consulting with the Foreign Ministry and the National Security Council.
A senior diplomatic official told Channel 10, which broke the news, that Carter is “a disaster for Israel,” and that all Israeli leaders should refrain from meeting the former president, due to his “anti-Israel positions.”
The official was also quoted as saying that while Netanyahu and Rivlin refused to meet with him, Israel had approved Carter’s request to visit the Gaza Strip.
Carter will reportedly arrive sometime in the next 10 days for meetings with Israeli and Palestinian leaders.
In recent years, Carter has become an increasingly outspoken critic of Israel’s policies and of Netanyahu.
During Israel’s war with Hamas in Gaza last year, Carter charged that there was “no justification in the world for what Israel is doing.” He also accused Netanyahu of blocking steps toward a two-state solution and working toward a “Greater Israel.”
In 2010, when he was Knesset speaker, Rivlin hosted Carter in his office and rebuked him over his meetings with Hamas officials, telling him that the Israeli public considered him a “Hamas supporter” and perceived his actions as encouraging terrorism. Rivlin also hosted Carter in 2009.
Rivlin’s office said Monday night that the president had accepted the Foreign Ministry’s recommendation not to meet with Carter on this visit.
Carter was the subject of much criticism in Israel over his 2006 book “Palestine: Peace Not Apartheid,” in which he wrote: “Israel’s continued control and colonization of Palestinian land have been the primary obstacles to a comprehensive peace agreement in the Middle East.”
In 2013, Carter called on the European Union to label products from West Bank settlements, which, he argued, are illegal under international law, although he rejected a full economic boycott to pressure Israel over the settlements.
In a recent interview with Jon Stewart on the Daily Show, he said Israel should to give up the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, while the Palestinians “make sure that they commit themselves without equivocation to the freedom of Israel to live in peace alongside them.”
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.