'US administration engaging with Hamas'

Abu Marzouk says "several channels" open, but not "mature."

May 31, 2010 04:41
3 minute read.
'US administration engaging with Hamas'

Marzouk cool 298. (photo credit: )


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A number of Hamas leaders have hinted over the past few days that the US administration has begun talking to the Islamist movement through both official and non-official channels.

Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, was quoted on Sunday as saying that Washington was talking to the movement despite its declared policy of boycotting it.

“Their official policy states that there are no contacts with Hamas,” Abu Marzouk said during a visit to Algeria. “However, they are engaging Hamas for objective reasons.”

He added: “There are several open channels [between Hamas and the US]. Some are official and some are unofficial. All those who are talking to us receive permission from the US State Department and the White House. The US administration tells them to talk to Hamas but without causing a big fuss.”

Abu Marzouk claimed that the US administration had reached the conclusion that Hamas is a factor that can’t be ignored.

“The Americans know that Hamas was elected by the Palestinian people and is leading a legitimate government,” he said. “While the US does not see Hamas serving American interests and plans in the region, they are nevertheless aware that Hamas is a fact.”

He added that despite the talks between the two parties, the US administration was still not “mature enough” to establish a clear and open relationship with Hamas. The Americans, he continued, are now more interested in dealing with the Iranian issue and creating an Arab alliance against Teheran.

Abu Marzouk said that Hamas could no longer ignore the fact that the US is a major player and power in the Middle East.

The Hamas official said that in any case his movement has no intention of making any concessions to the US or other parties. “We won’t make any political concessions,” he stressed.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum on Sunday called on President Barack Obama to reconsider the entire US policy vis-à-vis the Middle East and to “fulfill his promises to the Palestinians by distancing himself from pro-Zionist policies.”

Barhoum said that Hamas and the Palestinians were disturbed by Obama’s recent pledge to support Israel, claiming it was tantamount to “enhancing Zionist violence, terror and violations against the Palestinians and their lands and holy sites.”

Barhoum said that Hamas sees Obama continuing the “destructive doctrine” of his predecessor, George W. Bush, by supporting Israel and its military capabilities. “Obama’s policy is in violation of the famous speech that he delivered in Cairo [in June 2009] and in which he promised the peoples of the Middle East peace, security, freedom and mutual respect,” he added.

Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said over the weekend that his movement had no problem with the US.

“America is a great state, a superpower,” Mashaal said in an interview with PBS television. “We don’t have a problem whatsoever with the US or with American interests. But its interests should not be at the expense of the interests of others and the peoples of this region."

Mashaal and other top Hamas officials recently met with a number of American delegations that visited Damascus and the Gaza Strip.

Ahmed Yusef, a prominent Hamas political figure and close associate of the movement’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, said last week that Hamas wants direct talks with the Obama administration and the American people.

Earlier this month, the Hamas government in Gaza confirmed that it had sent a letter to the US administration – the first of its kind since Obama came to power.

Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government, said that Haniyeh sent a letter to Obama a few months ago calling for an end to Israel’s blockade of the Gaza Strip and Washington’s “double standards” toward the Middle East conflict.

Nunu said that the letter also included a request to Obama to change his policy toward the Palestinians and their rights. He said that Hamas’s decision to initiate contact with Obama came in response to his “positive” statements during his visits to Egypt and Turkey.

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