Mashaal says Obama retreated on settlements 29Mar13 March 28, 2013

by Nasser Laham    -   MEMO-Middle East Monitor    –    28 March 2013 

210167_345x230DOHA (Ma’an) — US President Barack Obama is a charismatic leader with talents that distinguish him from other American presidents but his policies are biased toward Israel, says Hamas chief Khalid Mashaal.

In an interview Wednesday in Doha, Mashaal said Obama offered nothing for the Palestinians despite starting out strong with a landmark speech in Cairo calling for a freeze on Israeli settlements.

“Unfortunately he retreated from this position in practical terms,” Mashaal said.

“During his second term visit to Jerusalem a few days ago, he seemed biased toward the Israeli side. He wanted to strengthen his relations with (Israeli premier Benjamin) Netanyahu at the expense of the Palestinian side.”

Mashaal added: “He has no plan (to resolve) the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

The Hamas leader said that “despite his talk about a Palestinian state,” he also “talked about the establishment of Israel like it’s a promise from God and the promised land.”

“In Hamas, in general, we don’t put our hope in anyone in the White House.”

He said the Islamist movement “believes in achieving its goals and needs through armed resistance,” but nevertheless we are flexible and we will seize all the chances to benefit from any available opportunity.”

On reconciliation with Fatah, Mashaal said he welcomed Qatar’s offer to hold an initiative to bring the two factions together in Cairo.

“God willing, I and Abu Mazan will succeed in achieving national unity. I can see how close it is,” he said.

He also said the Arab summit in Qatar was unlikely to accomplish much despite Hamas’ appreciation for Arab leaders’ “encouragement to Palestine. But this is not enough to stop settlements and Judaization.”

He called for a new strategy to protect the holy city and the al-Aqsa Mosque.

Asked if he would consider a run for the Palestinian presidency, Mashaal responded that Hamas “hasn’t made its final decision regarding the presidency. If Hamas nominated me to head the PLO, this is Hamas’ natural right. But we’re not going to fight for the presidency.”

Mashaal also said the Arab spring was a positive development. He said every nation has a right to demand freedom, reform, development and in fighting corruption. The Arab spring benefits Palestine, he said.

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