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)

    @J.P., @ Independant @ Cathy

    are you people so out of touch that you cannot see what the President is doing, trying to fix the world that the past administration that I am sure you voted for twice distructed, Kathy, how childish of you to say he is reading his speaches, did you say the same thing when GW was reading and making all these mispronounciations with the teleprompter.

    June 5, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  2. WIlly Brown

    That wasn't Obama talking hamas dudes. That was his teleaprompter but it got wheels so yes it roll along with you.

    June 5, 2009 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  3. Reformed Republican

    Can Hamas walk the walk of reason to help bring about a Palistinian state or is the fear of losing the power to strike terror upon both Jewish and Palastinian innocents alike just to strong to give up?

    June 5, 2009 01:33 pm at 1:33 pm |
  4. Larry

    Those of you pointing a finger at Hammas ... should really get yourselves educated before you come on these blogs and prove how ignorant you are, with non-factual opinions

    I suggest you start in the mid sixties with your research ... probably before most of you were born, and go forward and back from there


    June 5, 2009 01:34 pm at 1:34 pm |
  5. Paula

    Don't worry dear, out Un-American President will kiss your butt and give you whatever you want as long as it doesn't benefit the USA. You see he hates his own country.
    When his 4 years are up here, maybe you can take him off our hands.

    June 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  6. Kevin Denver Colorado

    Independent: Do you mean independent of sound reasoning? Bow to your MESSIAH Rush Limbaugh. republicans are godless anti american welfare babies and drink the Jim Jones kool-aid all day.

    June 5, 2009 01:35 pm at 1:35 pm |
  7. Ray Fisher

    The President has embarked on a Global Healing quest to alter America's image from a warring people to a peaceful people. His words are intended to promote peace through understanding instead of force. He has a huge task ahead of him yet a nobler task has never presented itself to any President. He isn't apologizing just speaking the truth promoting integrity to our nation. Godspeed to him in his endeavors!!!

    June 5, 2009 01:36 pm at 1:36 pm |
  8. Darth Vadik, CA

    Oh my God, Obama did not solve the worlds problems in 6 months!

    Grow up, you build a house one brick at a time. First we have to heal the wounds Bush created, and that does start by first talking to people, not urging them to overthrow their government before we bomb them to the stone age.

    What a buch of idiots republifreaks are.

    June 5, 2009 01:37 pm at 1:37 pm |
  9. big papa

    President Obama is sincere in his vision to transform the ME...

    ...but he can't do it alone...

    ...Those of us who have brains, hearts and vigor must support him...

    ...contact the Israeli lobby (AIPAC) and the GOP traitors who place their politics above our morals...

    ...and let them know we support our President...

    ...as for you confederate traitors on this board...

    ...You are all ignorant, irrelevant, and insidious demons...

    ...the country will purge your kind one day...

    ...when GOOD and DECENT white folk wake up and realize how detrimental you all are to peace and stability...

    June 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  10. VB Lincoln Park NJ

    Building peace in the Mideast is not just a pipedream, but like quitting smoking, you have to really want to do it.

    In any event, the right of Israel to exist has to be the first pre-requisite here. Without that acceptance by the rest of the Middle East, nothing concrete will emerge. "Are you listening, Hamas? Or are you going to continue to behave like uncivilized animals?

    June 5, 2009 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  11. I give up

    just keep saying sorry barry.

    June 5, 2009 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  12. Len

    I agree with "Former Republican, Never Again".

    President Obama reached out and put this problem in everyone's backyard. Peace will be reached when pressure is put on everyone(US, Isreal, Palestine and the Arab world) and he did that. His speech touched upon all the problems of this region that affects the entire world. He was firm and respectful. Something we lost in the last 8 years.
    He is forming a coalition of everyday people who are tired of bloodshed. Everyday people will defeat the Extremist. It will take hard work but it will happen.

    June 5, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  13. Hot Chick

    Ya all meet halfway

    June 5, 2009 01:44 pm at 1:44 pm |
  14. Never Repub again

    They may see the U.S. as being a terrorist organization. Under Bush it was.

    June 5, 2009 01:50 pm at 1:50 pm |
  15. AL

    To be clear, the reporter asks Hamas what responsibility he has ... and he accepts NONE. Its all on the other guy. That has been the overwhelming Arab response. Obama, in the most gracious way possible, told the Islamic world that their house IS NOT in order. But they heard what they wanted to and disregarded the rest, to paraphrase Paul Simon.

    June 5, 2009 01:52 pm at 1:52 pm |
  16. southerncousin

    What are they expecting, the man can't talk with out a teleprompter and you can see how much his rhetoric has helped with Iran and North Korea. He is just a bad joke George Soros, ACORN and the greedy corrupt unions have played upon the US.

    June 5, 2009 01:54 pm at 1:54 pm |
  17. elliott

    The speech was horrible.
    More signs that NOBAMA wants to bring America to its knees...

    June 5, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  18. Paul from Phoenix

    "First, the time is right because Palestinians and Israelis have leaders who are determined to achieve peace. President Abbas seeks to fulfill his people's aspirations for statehood, dignity and security. President Abbas understands that a Palestinian state will not be born of terror and that terrorism is the enemy standing in the way of a state.

    He and Prime Minister Fayyad have both declared, without hesitation, that they are opposed to terrorism and committed to peace. "

    This quote is a speach from Bush in late 2007. The language, as you see, is very similar to Obama's. Here is the problem:

    Hamas will not rest until Israel is wiped off the map. Hamas, essentially, is the 21st century version of Hitler. Obama will fail the same way his predecessors failed (Clinton and Bush worked very hard on this) until the Palestinian people rise up against Hamas.

    June 5, 2009 01:56 pm at 1:56 pm |
  19. Darth Vadik, CA

    Hamas was created as an extremist right wing palestinian organization as a reaction to the oppression of the palestinian people (this does not exuse the previous hamas terrorist actions against the innocent Israeli civilians), but as the palestinians moved towards the extreme, so have the Israelis, who voted a convicted criminal (I also believe him to be a war criminal) Netenyahu into office. The Israeli right wing war mongers are just as bad at scaring people into voting for the war mongers as the US right wing war monger duped the US people into voting for Bush and 2004.

    When you get extreme against extreme, the results are never good.

    June 5, 2009 01:57 pm at 1:57 pm |
  20. Had It

    W made a deal with Israel (verbally and a SECRET) that the US would not interfere with them continuing to invade Palestine and put up settlements. Now Israel is "ticked" because our current admin. won't go along with that SECRET verbal "gift (agreement)".

    Israel sends people here every year with their hand out for money (begging) and then they go back and terrorize other countries with their "threats" of nukes. I say we cut off the welfare to Israel until they stop being bullies.

    June 5, 2009 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  21. Had It

    We "give" more money to the beggars (Israel) every year THAN WE GIVE ANY OTHER COUNTRY. And they continue to bully everyone.

    I say the welfare needs to stop. We need to take care of people here that are starving and homeless.

    June 5, 2009 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  22. vegage

    I really hope that this time these two people will realize that they can not continue fighting for ever, and they take the steps two recognize each other the right to exist. Israel needs to return the lands occupied in the 7 days war for peace and recognition in the Arab world. It is the same thing they did with Egypt with the Sinai Peninsula for the Camp David Treaty. And Hamas needs to recognize Israel right to exist. Israel needs to stop making suffer the Palestinians and should never do again what it did to that poor Palestinians in that last horrible war that killed so many innocents lives, because it is hard to believe, but sadly what Israel did with Palestinians in Gaza in that last offensive was a holocaust. They are turning themselves into the same kind of people that massacred them during the Second World War, and I think they have not realized that fact.

    June 5, 2009 02:02 pm at 2:02 pm |
  23. DaBird

    SCROLL DOWN and read Mohamed's comments. This is a Radical Muslim opinion. Maybe DHS Janet should investigate this Hamas loving individual. WAKE UP AMERICA

    June 5, 2009 02:05 pm at 2:05 pm |
  24. Tom

    Great speech, and Obama will follow through. As for Hamas, I will believe them when I see them act like a civilized organization.

    June 5, 2009 02:06 pm at 2:06 pm |
  25. Had It

    All this isn't bad enough --

    When I had a SECRET clearance, I was told I would be fired immedately if any of those secrets were divulged.

    The GOP is now revealing contents of SECRET documents – and no repercussions. How's that for treason? How's that for double standards?

    June 5, 2009 02:07 pm at 2:07 pm |
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