From the desk of

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 3:33 pm EDT

Former President Jimmy Carter says the U.S. should stop favoring the Fatah movement of Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas over the terrorist organization Hamas. Addressing a conference of Irish human rights officials, Carter also said the Bush administration’s refusal to accept Hamas’ 2006 election victory was “criminal.”

Hamas fighters routed Fatah and seized control of Gaza Strip last week. Abbas then dissolved the power-sharing government with Hamas and set up a Fatah-led administration to govern the West Bank.

Carter said the decision by the U.S., Israel and the European Union to reopen direct aid to the new government in the West Bank, but to deny aid to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, represented an “effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples,” according to the Jerusalem Post.

The Hamas leadership refuses to renounce violence and recognize Israel, but Europe and the U.S. have continued to send humanitarian aid to Gaza through the United Nations and other organizations.

After Hamas’ election victory, “the United States and Israel decided to punish all the people in Palestine and did everything they could to deter a compromise between Hamas and Fatah,” Carter said.

He also said Hamas triumphed over Fatah in Gaza because of its “superior skills and discipline.”

He added: “This effort to divide Palestinians into two peoples now is a step in the wrong direction. All efforts of the international community should be to reconcile the two, but there’s no effort from the outside to bring the two together.”

© NewsMax 2007. All rights reserved.