spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri responded to US President Barack Obama AIPAC speech Sunday, saying that "the American government has failed in the past, and will continue to fail in its attempt to convince Hamas to recognize the Israeli occupation.
"They have a clear preference for Israel, at the expense of the freedom of the Palestinian people and its right for self-definition and the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state," he said.
In the speech made during the AIPAC conference Sunday, Obama slammed the Fatah-Hamas unity deal. "The recent agreement between Fatah and Hamas poses an enormous obstacle to peace," he said. "No country can be expected to negotiate with a terrorist organization sworn to its destruction.
"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," he went on to say. "We once again call on Hamas to release Gilad Shalit, who has been kept from his family for five long years."
Abu Zuhri countered by saying that "Obama's speech proves that it is a mistake to consider the American government as fair mediator, and that it is a mistake to continue betting on the role that the United States plays."
'Interference in Palestinian affairs'Senior Hamas official Salah al-Bardwil expressed his disapproval as well. "Obama's speech is unacceptable, and it is a blatant interference in the Palestinian internal affairs," he said.
"It is an attempt to continue to deepen the Palestinian rift in order to please Israel," he added.
Bardwil said that the Palestinians must move forward in the reconciliation process, and called on world leaders – especially European ones – to support Palestinian unity, "remove the blockade… and stop the settlements."
Fatah officials kept a low profile following Sunday's speech; Nabil Abu Rodeina, a spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, said that the Palestinian leadership will convene on Wednesday in Ramallah and the Arab Peace Initiative will convene on Saturday in Doha, Qatar to discuss the implications of Obama's statements.
AFP contributed to the report
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