Hamas to Obama: We Won't Recognize Israel
(CNSNews.com) – “The U.S. administration will fail, just as all others have in the past, in forcing Hamas to recognize [Israel],” a Hamas spokesman declared Sunday after President Obama once again pressed the terrorist group to relinquish violence and recognize Israel’s right to exist.
Sami Abu Zuhri, spokesman for the group that controls the Gaza Strip, reiterated a stand which, in Obama’s own words, should make it impossible for Israel to negotiate with a Palestinian government that includes Hamas.
Hamas and its rival, Fatah – Palestinian Authority (P.A.) chairman Mahmoud Abbas’ movement – early this month signed a reconciliation agreement and agreed to establish a “unity” government.
Addressing an American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference in Washington on Sunday, Obama said the Fatah-Hamas agreement “poses an enormous obstacle to peace,” adding that “no country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction.”
His answer to that dilemma was not to call on Abbas, Israel’s professed “peace partner,” to shun Hamas and crack down on its terror activities – as he is committed to do under signed agreements – but rather to urge Hamas to change. Obama also did not say what Israel should do if Hamas does not.
“We will continue to demand that Hamas accept the basic responsibilities of peace: recognizing Israel’s right to exist, rejecting violence, and adhering to all existing agreements,” Obama said.
Abu Zuhri’s statement made clear Hamas has no intention of following the advice.
Another Hamas official, Salah al-Bardwil, was quoted by Israel’s Yediot Ahronot as saying Obama’s comments Sunday on the Fatah-Hamas unity deal amounted to “blatant interference in the Palestinian internal affairs” and “an attempt to continue to deepen the Palestinian rift in order to please Israel.”
Abbas and his spokesmen have not reacted but the P.A. leadership will reportedly meet in Ramallah on Wednesday to discuss the path ahead following Obama’s major Mideast speech last Thursday.
That speech triggered a storm over Obama’s comments about Israel retreating to the “1967 lines,” with mutually-agreed land swaps – controversy the president sought to suppress in his AIPAC address by saying that he had stated in public “what has long been acknowledged privately.”
Also deeply troubling to Israel in Thursday’s speech were Obama’s less-than-forceful comments about Hamas. Addressing the pro-Israel audience on Sunday, he used far stronger language about the group, which the U.S. has designated a “foreign terrorist organization” since 1997.
Hamas’ refusal to repudiate violence and recognize Israel underscores should make any P.A. government that includes Hamas ineligible for U.S. support and funding, according to congressional critics. So far the adminstration has adopted a “wait and see approach.”
A Hamas leader said Sunday the reconciliation deal with Fatah strengthens the Hamas’ approach to the conflict – the approach of armed “resistance.”
Khalil Al-Hayya said the agreement had “boosted the resistance” and urged Fatah to “stand united behind the program of resistance since it is the only one capable of ending the occupation.”
The “occupation,” in Hamas’ view, is the entire state of Israel, as established in 1948 – not merely the territories captured from Jordanian and Egyptian control in 1967. The Hamas covenant dates its struggle against the “Zionist invaders” to the late 1930s.
Further underlining Israel’s concerns about Hamas’ ideology and agenda, Hamas lawmaker and Islamic cleric Yunis al-Astal in a recent interview predicted a “great massacre” in years to come.
“The [Jews] are brought to droves to Palestine so that the Palestinians – and the Islamic nation behind them – will have the honor of annihilating the evil of this gang,” al-Astal told Hamas’ al-Aqsa television on May 11.
“All the predators, all the birds of prey, all the dangerous reptiles and insects, and all the lethal bacteria, are far less dangerous than the Jews,” he said. “In just a few years all the Zionists and settlers will realize that their arrival in Palestine was for the purpose of the great massacre, but means of which Allah wants to relieve humanity of their evil.”
The comments were recorded and translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).
Addressing the AIPAC event on Sunday, U.S. House Majority Leader Rep. Eric Cantor spoke out against what he called a Palestinian “culture infused with resentment and hatred,” and said true peace in the Middle East will be impossible until Israel’s enemies accept its right to exist as a Jewish state.