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. Bob in Pa

    Mohamed, you can't see the difference ? People in market places are not armed threats. Find some reality my friend.

    June 5, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  2. Yna

    Talking is definitely easier than walking and that is true for everyone, not just the President. In his case, it would be impossible for him to do the walking with his own feet only. He needs the feet of eveyone in his team to be able to walk the walk that the whole world is expecting to see.

    June 5, 2009 02:09 pm at 2:09 pm |
  3. JC

    Talk the talk, walk the walk? That's interesting – most of America is wondering the same thing about our new president....

    June 5, 2009 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  4. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    The first thing is that the Arabs need to recognize Israel's right to exist and be safe in within the country. I would hope that the Arabs understand that, but they never seem to... Violence seems to be a fact of their culture; that and needing to be the only ones in charge. They are unwilling to accept anyone else being in authority.

    June 5, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  5. Bob in Pa

    We already have learned that BO will kiss you long and deep during a speech. He tries to say what everyone whats to hear, but only does what he desired from the beginning.

    June 5, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  6. Tom Paine

    This is what happens when a terrorist organization is elevated to participants in a "peace process" by Obama. A peace process will never happen with Hamas involved. Obama stepped in it again.

    June 5, 2009 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  7. Liberty

    The President's speech was honest and made points that neither side will acknowledge. It is time for the United States to stop giving Israel a free pass on anything they do. I agree they have a right to protect themselves but there is no justification for these settlements.

    Awhile back I heard a quote from a Palestinian: "To us every settlement that is created is like a suicide bomb to the Israelis" I'm not saying that taking land and taking lives are the same but the point is BOTH sides keep fanning the flames.

    June 5, 2009 02:13 pm at 2:13 pm |
  8. Unhappy Dem

    Hamas is a teriorist organization. They prove it daily.

    June 5, 2009 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  9. Wilson, Seattle

    Walking the walk is what will set Obama apart from Bush. Bush said a lot of the sam things Obama did, but no one in the Middle East took him seriously because his actions spoke louder than words. If Obama can back up his words we'll see things improve, if for no other reason then the US will be credible again.

    Hamas has a problem: they need to be at war with Israel to maintain power, (ie rocket attacks on Israel that have no strategic purpose). It will be up to the Palestinian people in Gaza to pressure them to moderate or replace them.

    June 5, 2009 02:17 pm at 2:17 pm |
  10. mjm

    "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. "

    Obama and Humas...together at last?

    @FORMER republican, NEVER again!

    Could you at least wait to see end result from all this before you get all crazy with your "NEVER..!".

    Nothing has been accomplished yet. Talk is still cheap...until the Dems find a way to tax it.

    June 5, 2009 02:19 pm at 2:19 pm |
  11. Helene

    President Obama reached his hand. I hope Hamas takes it. I want to see a viable, prosperous Palestinian state in my life time. Not walls, check points, and the daily humiliation of a population under occupation.

    June 5, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  12. Democrat in MD (CNN please post. Thank you!)

    @joe Hamas, whether we approve or not, has been duly & legally elected by the people whom they represent.
    @ FORMER REPBLICAN, NEVER AGAIN, who said"He's already walked the walk just by reaching out like he did."
    I totally agree with you! Now it is time for ALL of those in the Middle East to do the same! (Did you hear that, israel & Palestine?)

    June 5, 2009 02:20 pm at 2:20 pm |
  13. clair

    Can you guys appreciate that he is even concerned? He could simply looked the other way he has enough on his plate....

    June 5, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  14. I agree with 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….

    But, on the other hand, Oblahblah has proven that Rome can be destroyed in as little as 4 months..........

    June 5, 2009 02:22 pm at 2:22 pm |
  15. Mike

    These guys are saying words don't matter?
    How about leave them kill each other again ....He is not even addressing Sudan....

    Stop being silly!

    June 5, 2009 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  16. Kelby In Houston, TX

    Forget about Obama. He can't do this by himself. He is just the face and voice of the movement that is to come. This "walk" is something WE the people have to do. Americans, Jews and Palestinians must walk together on a path of peace. Can WE walk the walk? That is the question.
    And when faced with such questions WE must respond with the creed that sums up the spirit of a people. YES WE CAN!!!
    We can have open dialogue
    We can overcome the transgressions of the past
    We can work this out
    We can have peace
    YES WE CAN!
    God bless you. And God bless The United States of America!

    June 5, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  17. joe

    American morning is not a program to listen to....
    Chetry and John Roberts are such loosers!

    June 5, 2009 02:26 pm at 2:26 pm |
  18. Simmy

    I agree with CJ........It's 137 days and President Obama has far exceeded by wildest dreams of what he would do.....He has proven to me that he is cool, calm, and collected (well organized).....He is not afraid of a fight, and not afraid to confront issues headon......He is more respected by many foreigners than he is by millions of Americans.......But he is the MAN.....

    He has Republicans running around chasing their tails because they can't touch him....He gave a touching speech with Elie Wiesel at Buchenwald today......He looks like a giant, and makes Republicans look like grasshoppers.....I can understand their frustrations, but I don't pity them.....

    Someone please get a cane and pull Liz Cheney off the stage....Her time is way past up......She's beginning to look and sound like Palin, eventhough she has some intelligence.....

    June 5, 2009 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  19. Jane

    Obama is a Muslim, so why are people so surprised? He is, always has been, was raised a Muslim and that is his business. Obama doesn't know who he is, he a very angry man – he is also very dangerous – he does not believe like we do – he was not raised an American. He is not a Christian. Read "Audicity of Hope" if you have any thing to say about him being a Christian. He may quote what someone else has written for him, but he really is not a Christian. He is to liberal to think like Christians do.

    June 5, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  20. jm

    How can you have peace with an organization who's sole purpuse is to blow Israel off the face of the earth?

    June 5, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  21. Gracie

    YES, HE CAN!!! Obama knows exactly how engaging this situation is. He's not fooling himself in thinking that he can solve ALL middle east problems with a wand, but you have to start with one foot in front of the other and with diplomacy and DIALOG. Everyone needs to be welcomed to the table. Bottom line.

    Wars didn't start by themselves, it took the stupidity of fools. Everyone needs to step back and realize that ALL THIS FIGHTING WILL NEVER SOLVE THEIR ISSUES...... so why continue down a dead end? Even if you KILL every single person, does that end the war? NO because these same fools would find something else to COMPLAIN about.

    June 5, 2009 02:32 pm at 2:32 pm |
  22. M

    Well said Joe!!

    June 5, 2009 02:33 pm at 2:33 pm |
  23. Jen

    Now watch Hannity tonight edit this to make it sound like the leader of Hama's just admitted to hosting a party for Obama in Gaza and Obama even helped fire a rocket into Israel. Republican's and their lies. It's sad Obama has to waste his time apologizing for you losers. For the last 8 years that you spent embarrassing our country. Just like Germany had to aplogize for their Na.zi's, America has to apologize for it's Right Wing Republicans. Sad.

    June 5, 2009 02:35 pm at 2:35 pm |
  24. Mike

    How's this Joe. Ready? .... Maybe we can have peace when Israel stops killing Palestinian children in full-scale Gaza offensives, starts running clean water in to the Palestinian territories, allows for electicity to be used be Palestinians in the homes, allows for food to be sold in open markets in Palestinian towns, stops indiscriminately (and Illegally) bulldozing Palestinian homes in the West Bank territory to continue to build more illegal settlements, and , most importantly, TEARS DOWN THE SEPARATION BARRIER WALL! Just a thought.

    June 5, 2009 02:36 pm at 2:36 pm |
  25. Ed

    SO, if Obama DOES walk the walk are all of you right-wing neo-con corporate-socialists going to back up the Commander in Chief? Or will you continue to be treasonous mudslingers?

    Ronald Reagan is rolling over in his grave.

    June 5, 2009 02:37 pm at 2:37 pm |
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