Haniyeh: Bush's views 'unacceptable'

Hamas premier says US president's visit to the Middle East proves his bias towards Israel.

Haniyeh  224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
Haniyeh 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
US President George W. Bush's visit to the region proved his bias toward Israel and hurt Palestinian aspirations for a state of their own, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said Friday. Haniyeh spoke to reporters after Friday prayers as Bush wrapped up a three-day visit to Israel and the West Bank, seat of the Ramallah-based government of moderate Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, Haniyeh's rival. Haniyeh said Bush's views on a peace deal were based on promises to Israel, and don't serve Palestinian interests. "Bush gave Israel all the required pledges to solidify its occupation ... while he gave the Palestinians more illusions and slogans, and loose words that only express the deception which has characterized this visit," Haniyeh said. During his visit, Bush urged Israel to "end the occupation" of the West Bank and said a Palestinian state should be contiguous, a nod to Palestinian opposition to a state broken into pieces by Israeli settlements and military installations. At the same time, Bush came out on Israel's side on two important issues, implying that major Jewish settlement blocs in the West Bank should remain in Israeli hands in a final peace deal and that Palestinian refugees should not be resettled inside of Israel. Haniyeh said that the millions of refugees and their descendants from the 1948 war that accompanied Israel's creation must return to Israel. "These concepts are totally unacceptable to us" he said. "A short visit of a few hours can't reduce this historic right and shrink the future of Palestinian generations on the land of Palestine." Haniyeh criticized Bush's characterization of Hamas as an obstacle to peace. "This is sowing the seeds of sedition and is an attempt to create the atmosphere for internal Palestinian wars," he said. Haniyeh appealed to Abbas not to "slide" behind the US administration, saying he would be endangering his leadership.