Former President Jimmy Carter said he "spent a long time with President Obama" the evening before the five living presidents met at the

White House January 7. As David Axelrod took notes, they talked policy, he said. "I would say he was most interested in the Middle East because I had been to that region twice in the previous year and had met with some people that others usually don't meet with as you probably know," Carter said. Carter believes that Hamas leaders are prepared to accept peace with Israel.

Carter's top aide for many years, Kenneth Stein, has become a critic. Stein says he often hears the former president say that "Hamas told me" about particular conditions they might accept in a peace accord. And he wonders: Why does only Carter know about them? "How come they don't tell the rest of the world, how come we don't learn about these things?" asked Stein,who was the first director of the Carter Center at Emory University from 1983-1986.