Carter's visit is intended to influence American voters. Carter and Obama hold somewhat similar views on the Middle East, but Carter of course can express himself in more freely in radical terms. Carters visit will allow Obama to take a more moderate position on Israel in the presidentail debate with Romney next week. Obama will try to be the statesman, between the two more radical views of Carter and Romney. The new ship with demonstraters trying to reach Gaza is also an attempt to influence the US elections.
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Palestinians: One moderately wounded in Israeli strikes on southern Gaza Strip (Haaretz)
from the article: Jimmy Carter to visit Israel, Egypt