Obama and Mitchell
Photo: Reuters
Qassam rockrt fire on Israel
Photo: AP
Hamas says Obama represents no change to Bush
Islamist group's rep in Lebanon Osama Hamdan says new US president's declaration that Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel will hinder Mideast envoy George Mitchell's efforts to jump start Arab-Israeli peace talks

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas said on Thursday that US President Barack Obama does not represent a change from former President George W. Bush and is repeating his same failed policies in the Middle East.


"Obama insists that no change will happen. He is trying to move along the same path that previous US presidents have followed," Hamas' representative in Lebanon, Osama Hamdan, told Al Jazeera television.


"It seems that Obama is trying to repeat the same mistakes that George Bush made without taking into consideration Bush's experience that resulted in the explosion of the region instead of reaching stability and peace in it."


'A spoke in the wheel'

Israel launched a three-week offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip on Dec. 27 with the declared aim of stopping the Islamist group from firing rockets into the Jewish state's southern towns.


Bush staunchly supported Israel's right to self-defense and said Hamas most stop firing rockets.


Earlier on Thursday, Obama said an outline for a "durable ceasefire" included Hamas stopping its rocket fire and Israel completing its troop withdrawal from Gaza.


"I think this is an unfortunate start for President Obama in the region and the Middle East issue. And it looks like the next four years, if it continues with the same tone, will be a total failure," Hamdan said.


Moving quickly to tackle major foreign policy challenges, Obama said he would send George Mitchell, his newly appointed Middle East envoy, to the region as soon as possible in an effort to try and jump start Arab-Israeli peace talks.


But Hamdan said Obama's declaration that Hamas must stop firing rockets into Israel only served to hinder Mitchell's mission. "Some were optimistic when Mitchell was nominated as a Middle East envoy but it looks like even before Obama appointed him officially, he tried to put a spoke in the wheel, maybe so that he (Mitchell) doesn't succeed," Hamdan said.


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