June 5th, 2009
12:43 PM ET
9 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

"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. katiec

    President Obama can and will walk the walk IF the people of Israel and Palistine do the same. It cannot be a one way street.

    June 5, 2009 01:14 pm at 1:14 pm |
  2. Texas Teacher

    Obama is sincere in wanting the world to come together for peace just as he is sincere in taking care of the middle and poorer classes here. The wealthiest members of our society in the name of the Republican party will fight whatever he tries to do with rhetoric that divides the nation and allows the status quo to continue. Big Business runs this country through the Bush administration, and they are NOT willing to give up their control without a fight. And that is what the GOP stands for! Wake up, People, and smell the dictatorship on the horizon. And it is NOT Obama's administration, but the Republican Big Business Machine! They nearly won their aims under Bush/Cheney. And we, the People, had better stay awake and not fall for the Limbaugh and ilk propaganda. Just as the Middle East needs to wake up to the Domination of their Terrorist Agenda.. which is to bring nothing but war and death in an impossible war on the People all over the world including their own people!

    June 5, 2009 01:15 pm at 1:15 pm |
  3. John-Black Hills/SD

    It's the Muslim culture that has 51% of load, we can't do it for them. It seems that these nations believe it's Americans who are responsible for creating global civility. If it weren't for the worlds thirst for oil, the muslim culture in the Middle East would be farming sand. They are responsible for their cultures behaviors, if it weren't for the western world, they would have nothing.

    June 5, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  4. David Hernandez

    Why can't both sides understand that its time to stop this back and forth killings. That they both must move toward making and giving each others people the right to live in peace. Both sides must stop allowing these old negative emtions to rule them. To give each others the lands they promised each other and to start to live with each other in peace, that is going to be the real test. Both sides finally living across the road from each other and allowing their children the right to play and go to school with each other. Its time to make that move.

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


    Hamas has killed innocent Americans not just Israelis by blowing up bushes or gunning down 3 US diplomats in Gaza so please get real Hamas is a terrorist orgination and the leaders of Hamas have a bulleye on there foreheads

    June 5, 2009 01:16 pm at 1:16 pm |
  6. Avi Shlomo

    Here is another Idiocy by Geoff:
    Israell is already a viable country and it doe not matter the Arabs reconize it or not. This is all talk. The Palestinans are the ones who should be recognized as a Viable and contigeous country. your logic is like asking the victim to an act committed by a rapist.

    June 5, 2009 01:17 pm at 1:17 pm |
  7. dominican mama 4 Obama

    I believe, as those that helped get him elected believe, that: YES HE CAN!!! At the very least he'll try the diplomatic approach first. He's alsready taken the first step.

    June 5, 2009 01:18 pm at 1:18 pm |
  8. Mark from Fl

    I'd like ALL of us to ask one plain simple question:


    That should give the answer to the skeptics of the peace initiatives!!

    Remember that the Muslim population is 2 Billion and EVER growing (mostly due to their idiotic and stupid beliefs that says "one should not prevent births EVEN if the child cannot be properly raised!!)

    I want to think about our daily lives and why we should NOT stop this animosity OR atleast try to address it....

    June 5, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  9. Joe Terrogano

    It is up to both Israel and Palestine to "walk the walk". Focusing on President Obama is a convenient way to avoid responsibility for each side's share in this conflict. I wrote a paper on this conflict in Graduate School, in 1978, and nothing has changed. The"They did" finger pointing is a road to nowhere. The Conservatives are trying to exploit this conflict for their benefit. How limp and ineffectual.

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

    Dear Hamas Dude,

    Try denouncing terrorism, tell the Iranians to stick it and stop using your organization as pawns, and recognize Israel's right to exist. Then maybe EVERYONE can start to walk the walk.

    June 5, 2009 01:21 pm at 1:21 pm |
  11. Ann

    Mr. Speech cannot walk any walk, so forget it. Lets wait for the next 'historical' speech.

    June 5, 2009 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  12. Lefty

    The Israelis really haven't done anything to improve the peace process.

    June 5, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  13. Dawn in Pa

    President Obama speech yesterday in Cairo was to reach out to the Muslim World. He told them exactly what every POTUS had said, hopefully he can walk the walk. We have been spewing out the old saying, Peace in the Middle East for a very long time. The Middle East was always a hot spot, not insulting anyone from there. Iran-Iraq conflict, The Israelis against the Muslims. If I must, The Israelis were promised the land of Milk and Honey when they were lead out of Egypt, by Moses. See I still remember my Bible studies...

    Israel has the right to co-exist as well as the Palestinians. Like Canada and Mexico can be part of North America along with The United States of America, it's no different.

    We cannot fix everyones problems, but help when needed.

    June 5, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  14. Big red shoes

    One mans terrorist is another mans freedom fighter. People dont be so close minded. There is always two sides to a story. And Obama is doing the right thing.

    June 5, 2009 01:23 pm at 1:23 pm |
  15. believe the miracle?

    when obama walks the walk, he will officially become the savior.

    June 5, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  16. Andi

    If the right would do something other than complain and make up demeaning names for OUR President it may help the US to regain the world respect the right has so gleefully destroyed....but then that wouldn't fit in with the plan to have Obama fail, merely so they could regain power. I suppose it's nice to have goals and objectives, but their 21% of the voting citizens of the US doesn't seem to grasp the ramifications if the current administrations 'fails'. All they care about is being in 'power' – and taking 'power' away from the people they are supposed to represent.

    Criticism is healthy, however, 'slams' and name-calling and blame are not criticism and the world is tired of hearing it. Why do you think the US has such a poor image around the globe?

    June 5, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  17. jeff

    Is Obama trying to give us an ultimatum?: Accept my diktats and abandon Judea and Samaria, and let the Arabs destroy Israel, or else we have Buchenwald ready for you.

    June 5, 2009 01:24 pm at 1:24 pm |
  18. Larry

    The only ones apparently unable to WALK THE WALK ... is the Israelis

    They have been taking from the Palestinians for over 40 years

    I truly have little faith that they will want to give any of ALL they took, back

    The US supported the Israeli stealing for way too long ...

    Like some spoiled child ...

    June 5, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  19. Once You Vote Black: Mute Newt

    The Jews can do better then what they are doing with Hamas. If they would just stop building and treat the people whos land they took with respect perhaps they would stop sending bottle rockets over. The Arabs have a right to defend themselves also.

    June 5, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  20. Rick

    I think it is a safe bet that Israel would stop attacks on Gaza the day suicide bombers and rockets stop attacking Israel. Why is it so hard for Hamas to simply try peace as a tactic? That way they would have the western world on their side instead of against them. They might want to remember that you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar. The reason is that they are more interested in tit for tat revenge than in peace. Why? Because they simply aren't the sort of people who could ever run a country. If there ever was peace and they had their own country Hamas would lose relevance. They are terrorists, not politicians or leaders and they are more interested in settling old scores than in the welfare of the people they claim to represent.

    June 5, 2009 01:25 pm at 1:25 pm |
  21. Steph

    I believe President Obama asked us all to walk the walk...he is not soley responsible for solving all of the world's problems. He is, however, willing and able to help interested parties find a middle ground that is in everyone's best interest. However, neither side can continue doing the same thing and expect different results because one man gave an amazing speech.

    June 5, 2009 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  22. kim

    Repubs are such haters. The speech was excellent , Obama is so smart and always a step ahead. After this, the repubs have to be in excruciating pain.

    June 5, 2009 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  23. Jon in CA

    How RICH is this??

    Hamas (who refuses to honor cease-fire agreements) looks for follow-through from Obama (who regularly breaks campaign promises).

    Birds of a feather....

    June 5, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  24. Bill

    It's more likely that slimeball Obama could crawl the crawl. I'm so proud that I didn't vote for him. You will be sorry down the road that you did. financial ruin is in the works. It's only a matter of time before the reckless spending catches up with us and destroys the very foundations of this country.

    June 5, 2009 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  25. donttreadonme

    When Israel jets bomb they target the combatants and yes sometimes civilians are killed as result.
    Hamas targets civilians with suicide bombers! If you can't tell the difference then you need more help than you will find here.

    Palestinians don't want their own country they want to destroy Israel.

    Think of it.... if Mexico was lobbing missiles at the US daily there would be major war.

    June 5, 2009 01:31 pm at 1:31 pm |
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