Former US president Jimmy Carter expressed optimism Friday over Hamas's participation in next week's Palestinian parliamentary elections. Carter told CNN in an interview that although Hamas were "so-called terrorists," so far "there have been no complaints of corruption against [their] elected officials." He conceded that "there is an element within Hamas who deny Israel's right to exist," but compared the current situation to negotiations with the PLO, which was still outlawed as a terrorist organization during his presidency. He drew an additional comparison with Menachem Begin's rise to Israel's premiership in the seventies. "The Irgun, to which Begin belonged, was also characterized as a terrorist organization," he noted.