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. joe

    Hamas is a terrorist organization. Maybe we can have peace when they stop sending out suicide bombers. Just a thought.

    June 5, 2009 12:44 pm at 12:44 pm |
  2. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    He's already walked the walk just by reaching out like he did.

    June 5, 2009 12:46 pm at 12:46 pm |
  3. DaBird

    Only naive people would think that after years of fighting, one Obama speech will solve anything.

    June 5, 2009 12:47 pm at 12:47 pm |
  4. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    We can NEVER go back to the republican way of doing things, of bullying the world, invading those we don't like, taking care of the rich only, ignoring the envirnment. IT, the last 8 years, was a dismal failure in so many many ways, we cannot revisit the republican way again! I will NEVER again vote republican!

    June 5, 2009 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  5. Kathy

    Of course not!!! All he can do is talk, or should I say ...read?

    June 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  6. Independent

    Hamas and Obummer. What a likely couple. Who Knew? Maybe you libs will see where your messiah is taking you.

    June 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  7. J.P.

    Hamas sees through Obama's flowery rhetoric and puffy glittering generalities. Why can't Americans?

    June 5, 2009 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  8. HEIDI

    I think the Preidents speech more than says that he is ready to walk the walk as well as talk the talk. He pulled no punches on Thursday's speech.

    June 5, 2009 12:52 pm at 12:52 pm |
  9. Right Leaning Independent

    We Americans have heard many of his speeches and have not seen him walk the walk. Nice glossy speeches with no concrete plan or actions to back them up. But if you have any money or even if you do not have any money, he can walk the walk when it comes to spending it!!!

    June 5, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  10. RH

    What a joke, as if Hamas is willing to walk Obama's talk.

    You can't wave a wand a have there be an Arab state west of the Jordan the next morning. The bottom line is that there is no state to recognise at present – there are no functioning institutions or infrastructure, just a network of corruption and terror. These Arabs should look to the Israeli model of the Irgun under the Mandate and get busy. A state is not created by the stroke of a pen atop an ivory tower – it is slowly built on the backs of patriots under good, honest leadership, and that's something no one can just hand to them.

    June 5, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  11. Mohamed

    Hamas is reaction for the massive power that Israel owns, they are not terrorists.
    I don't know what is the difference between killing people by jets and an army and a suicide bomber, both take lives.

    Joe, you just want to see it your own way that Hamas is a terrorist and Israel is an angel.

    June 5, 2009 12:56 pm at 12:56 pm |
  12. Geoff

    Its hard to stomach this rhetoric from a leader of a group that sanctions rocket attacks against a civilian population, but his points are valid. There needs to be a concerted and physical effort to improve the situation for those suffering in the Gaza strip, before we can really prove progress in Israeli-Palestinian relations. However, with those concessions provided, Palestine and Hamas MUST recognize Israel as a viable country for a two-state solution to finally move forward.

    June 5, 2009 12:57 pm at 12:57 pm |
  13. CJ

    He'll work tirelessly (as he does with everything) to walk the walk and earning the excellent praises for his speech in Muslim countries is a great beginning. Rome wasn't built in a day....

    June 5, 2009 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  14. phoenix86

    Yes, Obama will walk the walk. He will have NO trouble turning his back on Israel (an American ally) and embrace a terrorist organization like Hamas. He won't, however, even crawl the crawl when it comes to Iran and North Korea.

    June 5, 2009 01:01 pm at 1:01 pm |
  15. GOPer

    Can somebody please hit this clown with an RPG?

    June 5, 2009 01:02 pm at 1:02 pm |
  16. tee

    Right Leaning Independent
    If you're too stupid to understand that things take time or too stupid to see that this is the hardest working and most intelligent President you ever seen. Then I will pray for your little brain.

    June 5, 2009 01:05 pm at 1:05 pm |
  17. Sally from N Dakota

    Now shut ya all mudhapakkah's – Prez Obama has done MORE THAN anyone else has done earlier – ONLY to create a peaceful env. for ALL of us to live in... just get back to your work and try to do something serious.

    1) STOP using your educational institutions (including mosqs) throughout the world for propogating fanatism, extremist ideas INSTEAD of simple faith
    2) STOP producing kids if you CANNOT upbring them and give them a proper (any, in fact) education – in essence, control your dic!!

    These are the SAME KIDS who are filled with hatred who later become terrorists and kill others

    GET IT MOURONS???????????

    June 5, 2009 01:07 pm at 1:07 pm |
  18. Jim in Florida

    "Former Hamas Senior Adviser"

    C'mon CNN, Hamas kills and maims at will and you guys treat this scumbag like he is some kind os legitimate government official.

    Perhaps Michelle will want to make him her Chief of Staff huh.

    Stop trying to legitimize Hamas CNN.

    June 5, 2009 01:08 pm at 1:08 pm |
  19. Texas Teacher

    The Palestinians are victims as much as those on the Israel side who are the victims of Hamas. There was a reason for their anger, of course. Things continue to be impossible the way it is. But the people of both sides need to realize that terrorism is not the solution. The world is appalled at the tactics of Hamas and other terrorist groups who make victims of all who are near them. They do not want peace, they want domination in the name of destruction to all. There is no way to win under their techniques. And as soon as the ones they claim to fight for realize this the sooner the destruction of their countries and their population will end. And the world will come together to help them rebuild and find peace as neighbors.

    June 5, 2009 01:09 pm at 1:09 pm |
  20. Expat American

    Kathy June 5th, 2009 12:51 pm ET
    Of course not!!! All he can do is talk, or should I say …read?
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    Simpleton post....

    President Obama has begun to build a relationship with the Muslim world as no other President has done.

    And you are still stuck on the 'teleprompter' argument; yours is a very simple reaction and response.

    It's time to go watch 'bride wars' and blame your father for your miserable life, don't you think?

    June 5, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  21. LacrosseMom

    President Obama's speech threatened Hamas, Al-Qaeda and the rest of them! Otherwise there would not have been not one, but two messages from Al-Qaeda.

    I believe that the best way to combat terrorism is to win over the hearts and minds of the Muslims. To convince them through words and actions that we are not the enemy, but the terrorists are!

    TO Obama supporters: let's just accept what we can not change..... which is that narrow minds, the ignorance, the hate that the rightwingnuts have. We can't reason with them. Let's not waste our time trying.

    June 5, 2009 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  22. PFFT

    Oh yes, let's give the terrorists what they want. But then, we already have. There's a terrorist sympathizer in the White House.

    He can't walk the walk, because that speech is all smoke and mirrors and teleprompters. Words put together by his party to make him look impressive as he speaks with flare.

    June 5, 2009 01:12 pm at 1:12 pm |
  23. Avi Shlomo

    RH,
    The whole west waved a wand and created the colonilist Israel. I suppose in your twisted logic Palestinian should not be entiltled to the same thing. That is understandable considering how they are demonize in western media and culture. I think It is about time to wave the wand and tell the Israelis enough is enough and no more of our Tax money supporting the extremist Israelis. This would mean that we are becoming a more active and impartial peace-maker, rather than remaining the weapons supplier, apologist and protector of Israel and its colonial ways.

    June 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  24. FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Right Leaning Independent – getting a bit tired of you repubs talking about President Obama's spending. Where were you guys the last 8 years, in a cave? GWB bankrupted this country rebuilding IRaq. President Obama inherited gwb's debt and had to use more to stimulate the ecocomy trying to rebuild THIS country. Didn't hear a peep from the rethugs in the house or senate about the billions towards an illegal war, rebuilding Iraq or the trillions given to cheyney's company Haliburton but you guys are up in arms about the President fixing America's economy. It doesn't make sense and is illogical, but that's what drove me from being a repub. NEVER AGAIN!

    June 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
  25. Jon

    It is interesting how Hamas wants Obama to wal kthe walk, when Obamas main point is to create two states. How can hamas ever support a two state solution when they refuse to acknowledge the right of one of those states to exist. Seriously, Hamas is full of it!!!

    June 5, 2009 01:13 pm at 1:13 pm |
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