June 5th, 2009
12:43 PM ET
5 years ago

Hamas official: After the talk, can Obama walk the walk?

(CNN) – Most people across Muslim and Arab lands viewed President Barack Obama's speech in Cairo, Egypt, as "excellent," a spokesman for the hard-line Palestinian movement Hamas told CNN.

But the official, Ahmed Yousef, interviewed on CNN's "American Morning" from Gaza City, said now there's a question out there on the street: Is the American president "ready to walk the way he talks."

"This is the question," said Yousef, the senior adviser for former Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniya.

In his address to Muslims, Obama called for bridging gaps between Israelis and Palestinians and urged the establishment of a two-state solution. He called for an end to Israeli settlement building and he called for the Palestinians to end violence against the Jewish state.


And he cast a portrait of a grinding Palestinian existence.

"For more than 60 years they have endured the pain of dislocation. Many wait in refugee camps in the West Bank, Gaza, and neighboring lands for a life of peace and security that they have never been able to lead," Obama said Thursday.

"They endure the daily humiliations - large and small - that come with occupation. So let there be no doubt: The situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable. America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own."

But at the same time, Obama, while acknowledging that Hamas has some support among Palestinians, said the group has to realize it has
"responsibilities."

"To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past
agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist," Obama said, listing the responsibilities.

The leadership of Hamas, considered by the United States and Israel to be a terrorist organization, won elections in Palestinian territories in 2006, prompting stringent sanctions from the West.

The speech comes months after an eruption of war in Hamas-controlled Gaza, when Israel launched a tough offensive against Hamas militants firing rockets at communities in southern Israel before the forging of a cease-fire that Hamas says is violated by Israel.

While Yousef called Thursday's speech "historical" and cited the president's "wonderful words," he said that Obama didn't call for lifting
Western sanctions in Gaza and for helping the Palestinians. And, he said, more needs to be done to bridge gaps between the West and the Muslim world.

"They're still ignoring that the Palestinians are suffering from the sanctions, and this has become like a crime against humanity. It's collective
punishment endorsed by the people in the West. I hope that we're going to hear something positive and see again action or facts on the ground after this speech," Yousef said.

The two-state solution has been elusive for the state of Israel and the Palestinians. Yousef said the recognition of Israel should be considered until there is an independent Palestinian state. Israel wants recognition of its right to exist before it crafts a peace deal with the Palestinians.

"President Obama is a professor of international law, he understands that you can't ask the people who are under occupation to recognize their occupier. This is against the international law," he said, .

"When we have our own state, a free and independent Palestinian state, then we can talk about this issue of recognition. ... It's too early to talk
about recognition while we are suffering for the last 60 years from the occupation.

Hamas says a "concrete path" is required "on the ground."

There have been promises under the Bush administration for the establishment of a Palestinian state, Yousef said. But the Palestinians "lost
confidence" in the world community because of "Israeli aggression justified by the Americans and the world community."

He now believes the West needs to prove it is "really sincere" about Palestinians concern and is "ready to help the Palestinian to have their own
independent state."


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (137 Responses)
  1. franco

    Of course not! he's all aout teleprompters. America will find this out in due time!

    June 5, 2009 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  2. ian

    In the arab world the only good jew is a dead jew. Does anyone really believe any arab will ever accept israel in any form? All this settlement talk is a joke. It's too bad our president is too naive to know this. Even when israel has been forced to kill , they warn civilians do what they need to, then leave. Arab terrorists pass out candy and celebrate when jews or americans die. They do not value life- that's why they train their own toddlers to kill. And let's be perfectly clear- this has gone on long before they lost the "occupied territories" in 1967.

    And this is whom we are trying to appease?

    June 5, 2009 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Limbaugh is a Liberal

    There is no change in US policy. Obama just recycled old talking points from old speeches by past presidents, each of them promising peace, each of them promising a secure Israeli and a democratic Palestinian state. Those previous presidents were all talk and no action on the issue. Obama will be exactly the same. He talked the same talk, he will walk the same walk.

    June 5, 2009 03:41 pm at 3:41 pm |
  4. Mike, Syracuse, NY

    The Hamas charter specifically calls for the elimination of Israel and the combination of it's territory with the West Bank and Gaza into one Palestinian state. If Obama thinks anything he says or does short of accepting the destruction of Israel will make Hamas happy he is tragically mistaken.

    June 5, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  5. dan

    If we need an extra $20 billion or so:

    taxthechurches"DOT"org

    from the Bill of Rights:
    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof

    June 5, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  6. history repeats

    Independent

    i cant stand you people claiming independance. you are REPUBLICANS that cant admit it.

    DaBird

    we dont think his speech will solve anything we think what he talked about in his speech will help solve some things. liberals dont believe in ideological rhetoric the same way you repubs do. you know like "mission accomplished" or "we dont cut and run" we are not in 4th grade and we believe in a crazy thing called diplomacy. our founsing fathers did to until they were FORCED to fight back in SELF DEFENSE. we also dont believe in messiahs the same way that you do. i personally dont believe in angels and fairys and invisble men that will come down from the sky to take me to the clouds before they put everyone else through hell. you people always talk about things like we think in the same childish manner that you do.

    June 5, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  7. peace on earth

    State of Israel was built on the ground of terror and people who are in favor of this State need to read the history more closely. Response from Palestinians started after all these illegal people started to settle on Arab land from Europe and started to claim they own it. It is impossible to see now at the present day and age that who is responsible for all that unless we take few steps back in the history. Hate that was started by Hitler took a strange twist and creation of The State of Israel came out of that hate. People in the Arab land are just trying to hold on to the land that they were living in for few centuries. Jews, Christians & Muslims were all living together until the creation of State of Israel. It is impossible to take the clock back and undo all.

    June 5, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  8. Dan, TX

    He did not even want to discuss Israel's right to exist. I'm neutral on this, but this statement by Hamas is a statement that they do not want peace. If they are not willing to embrace Israel's right to exist, why should Israel give power to them?

    June 5, 2009 03:52 pm at 3:52 pm |
  9. LacrosseMom

    Read on the Hufington Post, that yesterday Hannity the Hater, edited President Obama's speech on his show, so it appeared that he was "sympathetic" to the 9/11 terrorists! How disgusting! How do people like Hannity get away which such lies?!

    Please boycott all Fox media.

    June 5, 2009 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  10. Alan

    Yes, Yes, Yes, America is soooo baaaad!!!! I am so glad that we finally have a prez that sees just how horrible we are and is trying to set things straight.

    I vote that we stop ALL aid to all countries. After all who really wants American dollars that are earned with BLOOD, THE ENVIRONMENT, AND THE BACKS OF THE POOR.

    I am puzzled at the lack of lines of people waiting to leave America for all of the GOOD countries in Europe, Africa, and the Mid East. HMMMM!!!!!!!!

    June 5, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  11. Hopeful Optimist

    I honestly think that Obama will have better luck influencing the two sides (Israelis and Palestinians) to work for peace than he will getting the ultra-right wingnuts in this country to accept the fact that he is our prez. I have never seen anything like this in my life, and I'm an old man. Sorer losers I have never encountered. I do believe they would sacrifice their own country if they knew they could successfully sabotage his efforts to pull America out of the unequivocal MESS that their leaders left us in.

    June 5, 2009 03:54 pm at 3:54 pm |
  12. Golden State Girl

    To: DaBird,

    I think you missed the objective of the talk. Everything must commence somewhere and President Obama's speech sure was a great start!

    Both the Palestinians and Israelis deserve to live in peace and dignity. It's refreshing for a U.S. president to finally see BOTH sides. Think there was too much favortitism by the U.S. in one direction and that's also what contributed to the problem....

    June 5, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
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