'US administration engaging with Hamas'

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

Marzouk cool 298 (photo credit: )
Marzouk cool 298
(photo credit: )
A number of Hamas leaders have hinted over the past few days that theUS administration has begun talking to the Islamist movement throughboth official and non-official channels.
Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the Hamas Political Bureau, wasquoted on Sunday as saying that Washington was talking to the movementdespite 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 engagingHamas 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 tous receive permission from the US State Department and the White House.The US administration tells them to talk to Hamas but without causing abig 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 peopleand is leading a legitimate government,” he said. “While the US doesnot see Hamas serving American interests and plans in the region, theyare nevertheless aware that Hamas is a fact.”
He added that despite the talks between the two parties, the USadministration was still not “mature enough” to establish a clear andopen relationship with Hamas. The Americans, he continued, are now moreinterested in dealing with the Iranian issue and creating an Araballiance 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 intentionof making any concessions to the US or other parties. “We won’t makeany political concessions,” he stressed.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum on Sunday called on President BarackObama to reconsider the entire US policy vis-à-vis the Middle East andto “fulfill his promises to the Palestinians by distancing himself frompro-Zionist policies.”
Barhoum said that Hamas and the Palestinians were disturbed by Obama’srecent pledge to support Israel, claiming it was tantamount to“enhancing Zionist violence, terror and violations against thePalestinians and their lands and holy sites.”
Barhoum said that Hamas sees Obama continuing the “destructivedoctrine” of his predecessor, George W. Bush, by supporting Israel andits military capabilities. “Obama’s policy is in violation of thefamous speech that he delivered in Cairo [in June 2009] and in which hepromised the peoples of the Middle East peace, security, freedom andmutual 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 interviewwith PBS television. “We don’t have a problem whatsoever with the US orwith American interests. But its interests should not be at the expenseof the interests of others and the peoples of this region."
Mashaal and other top Hamas officials recently met with a number ofAmerican delegations that visited Damascus and the Gaza Strip.
Ahmed Yusef, a prominent Hamas political figure and close associate ofthe movement’s prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, said last week thatHamas wants direct talks with the Obama administration and the Americanpeople.
Earlier this month, the Hamas government in Gaza confirmed that it hadsent a letter to the US administration – the first of its kind sinceObama came to power.
Taher a-Nunu, spokesman for the Hamas government, said that Haniyehsent a letter to Obama a few months ago calling for an end to Israel’sblockade of the Gaza Strip and Washington’s “double standards” towardthe Middle East conflict.
Nunu said that the letter also included a request to Obama to changehis policy toward the Palestinians and their rights. He said thatHamas’s decision to initiate contact with Obama came in response to his“positive” statements during his visits to Egypt and Turkey.