Carter's diplomacy

After meeting over the weekend in Damascus with Khaled Mashaal, leader of the Arab terrorist group Hamas, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced Monday that Hamas is prepared to "accept the right of Israel to live as a neighbor next door in peace."

Rushing to set the record straight when he realized the now-doddering, 83-year-old Mr. Carter was actually dumb enough to believe the guff they'd been feeding him with the hummus and tabouli all weekend, Mashaal called his own news conference a short time later, clarifying that his group "will not" recognize Israel.

Now there's a nuanced distinction.

Instead, Mashaal says Hamas will accept a Palestinian state on Palestinian territories occupied by Israel in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, and in exchange will offer Israel a 10-year truce if the Jewish state will turn tail, surrender and withdraw to its difficult-to-defend 1948 borders.

Mashaal then "sweetened the deal" by stressing that his group will never recognize the Jewish state.

"We agree to a (Palestinian) state on pre-'67 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital with genuine sovereignty without settlements but without recognizing Israel," Mashaal told reporters.

Israel, of course, has been trying "land for peace" for 30 years.

For those who have forgotten, Israel did not launch out of thin air the 1967 war in which it ended up capturing the West Bank and Sinai (since surrendered, "for peace," in a deal sweetened with billions of dollars in annual U.S. bribes to Egypt.) Rather, its tiny army and air force were responding to a massive military buildup along its borders by Arab states that outnumber the Israelis by thousands-to-one.

Most recently, Israel evacuated Gaza in 2005 based on another promise that this would being "peace." Instead, Hamas has demonstrated that by "peace," it means endless daily rocket attacks on Israeli civilian population centers, with any moderated Israeli reprisal being dubbed a "new outrage and provocation."

In somewhat of an understatement, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn., told Fox News Monday that "at best, President Carter is being naive" in trying to negotiate with avowed terrorists. "There is a long list of people who thought they could reason with dictators and killers, going back to Neville Chamberlain and Hitler in the 1930s, but it has been shown to be absolutely wrong."

The simple faith of the 39th president remains endearing in its way -- he even publishes books of earnest poetry. The legacy of his pathetic presidency would be at least partially redeemed if he would stay home and stick with his efforts to build homes for the poor.

He really should consider doing that.