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Mashaal why is Obama setting preconditions only for hamas?

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Mashaal: Why is Obama setting preconditions only for Hamas?

Jun. 11, 2009 Staff , THE JERUSALEM POST

While most of the Arab world responded with enthusiasm to the overtures in Cairo of US President Barack Obama last week, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Thursday complained that the president was presenting Hamas with preconditions ahead of entering into dialogue while he was not insisting on these preconditions regarding both Syria and Iran.

"Obama adopted a new language for speaking with Hamas," Mashaal told Asharq Al-Awsat, but added "we hope this will translate into actions on the ground, and that he will cancel the preconditions for talking to Hamas. He is opening a new page with the region and is beginning dialogue with the Iranians and the Syrians without preconditions, then why is he setting up preconditions for Hamas?"

On Tuesday night, Mashaal said "Hamas will be a positive force in helping to find a fair solution to the Palestinian people and enabling them to fulfill their rights."

"Hamas will not be an obstacle. Everyone knows that Israel is the obstacle," he said.

In his Cairo address, Obama called on Hamas to end violence, abide by previous agreements signed between Israel and the Palestinians and recognize Israel’s legitimacy.

While commending Obama's call to establish a Palestinian state, Mashaal criticized the president for the fact that his "perception of the Palestinian state is still vague, because he did not address the issue of territory, capital, right of return and a timetable for all of the above. These are critical points."

The Damascus-based Hamas leader admitted that his organization was going through difficult times. "We have reached hard times… our rights were violated, we will present our vision." Mashaal told Al Kuds al Arabi on Tuesday that he would answer Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's upcoming policy speech with his own vision for the future of the region.

In the interview to Asharq, Mashaal said Obama did not use the word 'terror' when mentioning the Palestinian resistance.

But Mashaal expressed displeasure at Obama's comparison of the condition of the Palestinians to the history of blacks in the United States and South Africa. "We in Palestine face an occupation. An occupation is to be fought with arms according to all criteria of international law."

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