(photo credit: GPO)
The US State Department said this week there has been no change of policy on Hamas despite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's characterization of the group as a "resistance movement."
"Our position on Hamas has not changed at all. They are an officially designated terrorist organization," a State Department official said.
In speaking to reporters in Berlin on January 18, Rice, discussing the situation of Palestinians in the year 2000, said, "You had Hamas, of course, sitting out as a resistance movement, not at all, by the way, involved in the politics at all."
She was contrasting the conditions for a settlement at that time versus those of today. She also described then Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat as someone "who had one foot in terror and one foot in politics," and the Palestinian Authority as "overrun by corruption, overrun by its ties with terrorism." The State Department official said that Rice forgot to use the word terrorist, but that she was merely trying to "make a wider point" in her remarks.
Several Jewish groups declined to comment on Rice's description of Hamas.
But Jess Hordes, Washington director of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Jerusalem Post, "It raised some eyebrows and I don't think it was an artful term in connection with Hamas."
He added, though, that he didn't believe her language indicated a change in policy: "The State Department position on Hamas has been explicit and clear."
"Hamas is officially designated as a terrorist organization by the United States," an Israeli diplomatic source said. "There's no daylight between our two countries in this regard."