Hamas spokesman Mahmoud al-Zahar responded by saying, "Clearly Obama's plan is no different, aside from a few small details, from that of George Bush. Now he refers to the 1967 borders as sacred, but who says we accept them, and that we won't speak of the '48 lines?" he told al-Emarat al-Youm.
He added that Obama was trying to pull wool over the Palestinian people's eyes and thus doing them harm. "Obama wants to place us within 22% of the area of Palestine," he said, referring to the entire State of Israel.
"He speaks of land exchanges, but the issue of exchanging territory takes away from Jerusalem. He wants to give Jerusalem to the Israelis and give us just 5% of historical Palestine, which was originally our land, and this is just a trick."
Obama also criticized a Palestinian plan to declare independence at the UN General Assembly in September. "We understood Obama's speech, which said that if the Palestinians go to the UN they will achieve nothing, but (Abbas) needs to understand this too, as he clings to hope for achievements in September," al-Zahar said.
Senior Islamic Jihad member Azzam Nafez says his organization was unsurprised at Obama's speech. "We do not especially care about the American position and we don't see in it any change towards the Palestinian issue," he said.
Nafez claims the Palestinians should take advantage of the Arab uprisings to promote the Palestinian issue. "Obama is a weak and helpless man in the face of the Zionist lobby and everyone needs to realize this," he said.
Meanwhile the Palestinian Authority announced Israel must accept Obama's plan. PLO Secretary-General Yasser Abd Rabbo said his position regarding a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders will be the basis for a profound peace process, "If Israel gives its unequivocal consent."
Abd Rabbo noted that Israel's refusal to withdraw to the 1967 lines and its insistence on continuing construction in areas beyond these borders – for example the recent approval of 1,500 new housing units in Jerusalem – proves that it is not heading toward a genuine peace process.
He also dismissed Obama's criticism against the reconciliation deal with Hamas. "This is unjustified, especially when the nations of the world are not being asked to deal with the factions but rather with the PLO, which has not changed its position or conduct," he said.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas traveled to Jordan Sunday in order to consult with its leaders following Obama's speeches. Palestinian leaders are scheduled to convene in Ramallah in the coming days in order to discuss advice Abbas is receiving from various Arab leaders.
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