Ma’an – Updated 22 May 2011
GAZA CITY (Ma’an) — Hams spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri slammed Sunday US President Barack Obama’s speech to the American-Israel Public Affairs Committee, saying a call to the party to recognize Israel would go unanswered.
In Washington, Obama addressed the powerful Jewish lobby group and elaborated on statements made Thursday in his “Arab spring” speech, urging calls to democracy and reform across the region. He re-stated his position that the 1967 armistice lines should be the basis of negotiations between Israel and Palestine, calling a Friday speech where Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused the idea as a misunderstanding.
The Hamas spokesman said the speech — in which Obama called for Palestine’s Islamist party to recognize Israel and renounce violence and also reaffirmed his support for Israel and Washington’s commitment to go “beyond” regular military assistance to the Jewish state in order to help “maintain Israel’s qualitative military edge” — showed the US administration was “not a friend to the people of the region.”
Abu Zuhri said Obama’s continued support of Israel showed the US was biased, and would “support the occupation at the expense of the freedom of the Palestinian people.”
The spokesman called Obama’s statements on the inevitability of the failure of a Palestinian move seeking statehood at the UN an effective denial of the right for Palestinians to have an independent and sovereign state.
Abu Zuhri also spoke out on the widely accepted stance of starting negotiations based on a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 borders, saying it revealed the mistake that was the “gamble on the American role” in negotiations. While Hamas has said it would recognize Israel once it withdraws to the 1967 borders, the party holds that negotiations should be based on the borders of historic Palestine, resulting in far fewer concessions for Palestinians, who would start out with a much stronger bargaining position.
“The US administration will fail, just as all others have in the past, in forcing Hamas to recognize the occupation,” Abi Zuhri said of the request to recognize Israel ahead of talks.