However, yesterday President Carter announced that he had achieved significant progress:
The former US president Jimmy Carter today said Hamas was prepared to accept Israel's right to "live as a neighbour next door in peace".Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas apparently disagrees.
Carter was speaking after meeting Khaled Meshal, an influential leader within the militant organisation, in Damascus last week.
The former president insisted Hamas would not undermine efforts by the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, to reach a peace deal with Israel.
Hamas believed any peace agreement negotiated by Abbas would have to be submitted to the Palestinian people in a referendum, he added.
Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter failed in his attempt to talk Hamas into accepting a future two-state peace deal with Israel, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Tuesday.And in case you wanted to hear it straight from the horses
Carter said after private meetings with Hamas leaders in Egypt and Syria last week that the Islamist group, which is shunned by Israel, Abbas and the West, would accept a peace deal signed by the Palestinian president if it passed a referendum.
But Hamas said it would continue to reject the Jewish state's right to exist and turned down a proposal by Carter -- whose mission was disavowed by the Israeli and U.S. governments -- to halt rocket fire from the Gaza Strip unilaterally.
"Carter gave them (Hamas) the right advice," Abbas told reporters in Iceland, where he made a stopover en route to talks with U.S. President George W. Bush in the United States.
"He urged Hamas to accept a two-state solution and accept past Palestinian agreements with Israel, but unfortunately he failed to convince them and his visit did not end up with positive results."
However, Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas spokesman, later said Carter's comments "do not mean that Hamas is going to accept the result of the referendum".All this makes you wonder what the negotiations actually sounded like. We asked our staff of skilled humor writers to provide a sample:
Carter: Let's talk concessions and quid pro quo. What would Hamas be willing to offer in return for an Israeli promise to end all cross-border incursions into Gaza?
Meshal: We would wipe Israel off the face of the earth, driving them into the sea, and killing every man, woman and child of the Jewish pigs.
Carter: Well, that sounds like a good starting point for our discussion. Clearly, economic concessions are also important. If the US were to promise one billion in aid annually to the Hamas government in Gaza, what further concessions could you consider?
Meshal: In that case, perhaps we would wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
Carter: That's better, right?
Meshal: Yes. Much better. We would drive them into the sea and kill every man, woman and child.
Carter: I'm sensing that this killing every man, woman and child point would cause some international controversy. Could we examine a compromise on that point?
Meshal: We would be happy to kill only the men.
Carter: That is exactly the sort of give and take we need.
Meshal: Of course, afterwards, we would like to kill the women and children too.
Carter: But you'd be willing to stick to just the men as a preliminary settlement? That's definitely progress. We'll come back to this. Can we discuss disarmament?
Meshal: We are fully in support of Israel's disarmament.
Carter: Outstanding! I think I'll call a press conference.