A delegation led by former US President Jimmy Carter said it has called off a planned visit to the Gaza Strip.
Carter had planned to make the visit on Thursday in an attempt to draw attention to the humanitarian situation in the war-battered territory. The trip included planned meetings with Hamas, the Islamic terror group that controls Gaza.
But late Wednesday, the Elders, the group sponsoring the visit, expressed regret that it would not take place. It gave no explanation.
“[The Elders] remain concerned at the slow pace of reconstruction and the continued closure of Gaza, and will work with the international community to improve conditions for its people,” a spokesperson for the group stated.
The spokesperson also expressed the group’s commitment towards Palestinian reconciliation and reaffirming “their belief in a just and viable two-state solution for both Israelis and Palestinians.”
Israeli officials have no plans to meet Carter. But Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Emmanuel Nahshon said Israel was prepared to allow Carter to visit Gaza, and the cancellation was not at Israel’s request.
In recent years, Carter has become an increasingly outspoken critic of Israel’s policies and of Prime Minister Benjamin 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.”
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, the former president 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.
Stuart Winer and Tamar Pileggi contributed to this report.