Hamas Spokesman: U.S. policy is the main obstacle to peace

By Reuters


Cheshvan 27, 5767

The Hamas-led Palestinian government said on Saturday that the United States, rather than Hamas, must change its policies if it hopes for peace.

"American policy is the biggest obstacle to bringing peace and security to the region," Hamas's Ghazi Hamad, the Palestinian cabinet spokesman, said when asked about U.S. efforts.

"The Americans should not demand from the Palestinian side to commit or to abide by the Quartet conditions. The Americans should change their own policy and ask Israel to change its policies toward the Palestinian people," he added.

Washington is preparing for a possible peace push that could include an international peace conference in Jordan at the end of the month.

But a U.S. official and diplomats said any such meeting hinged on a planned Palestinian unity government meeting the conditions of the Quartet of Middle East mediators: to recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by past agreements.

Hamas is sworn to Israel's destruction and has said that any unity government it joins will not recognize Israel's right to exist.

Still, Deputy Palestinian Prime Minister Naser al-Shaer said rival Palestinian factions had reached a "consensus" that the unity government's program would be separate from that of Hamas.

The comments raised the possibility that the unity government could try to meet at least some of the Quartet's conditions while Hamas remains committed to Israel's destruction.

But Ismail Rudwan, a spokesman for Hamas, said the militant group would never recognize Israel's right to exist.

Rudwan also said he expected the platform of any unity government "not to recognize the legitimacy of the Zionist occupation."

Ministers from the U.S., Russia, Egypt, the Gulf states and others will be at the Dead Sea in Jordan on November 30 for an annual Middle East democracy and development meeting and the U.S. hopes an international peace conference could be held just before that event.

On Thursday, Spain, Italy and France agreed to work on a joint plan to resolve the Middle East conflict, calling for a total cease-fire and suggesting they could send truce monitors to the area.