Hamas congratulates Obama - claims ongoing ties with administration
November 11, 2008
Hamas Claims Secret Relationship with Obama AidesCheshvan 13, 5769, 11 November 08 02:20by Hana Levi Julian
(IsraelNN.com) Hamas is claiming close and ongoing ties with America's upcoming Obama Administration, according to a report published Tuesday in the Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat. The relationship was kept under wraps until after the U.S. elections so as not to harm Obama's election prospects. The U.S. has classified Hamas a terrorist organization.
The London-based publication interviewed Gaza-based political chief Ahmad Yousuf, advisor to Ismail Haniyeh, the head of the Hamas regime in Gaza, which seized power in a bloody coup d'etat in 2007. Yousuf declared that Hamas has been in regular contact with President-elect Barack Obama's advisers for months.
"We were in contact with a number of Obama's aides through the internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza," the Hamas official was quoted as saying, "but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as that may have had a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain."
Contacts allegedly began during the presidential race and Yousuf expects the relationship to continue. He has also predicted that there will be "a change" in American foreign policy in the Middle East once Obama enters the White House. However, he said, the new president will focus more on domestic issues and pay less attention to the region "and the Palestinian issue" than did his predecessor.
Haniyeh sent Obama a telegram congratulating him on his "historic victory" in the U.S. elections, according to FrontPage Magazine.
Obama Advisor Malley's Role Uncertain
At the time, campaign spokesman Ben LaBolt stated that "Rob Malley has, like hundreds of other experts, provided informal advice to the campaign in the past. He has no formal role in the campaign. He will not play any role in the future."
FrontPage Magazine reported Tuesday that Obama has already dispatched Malley to meet with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and Syrian President Bashar Assad. The report cites an unnamed aide of Malley's as stating that Malley's job is to explain 'that the Obama administration will take Egyptian and Syrian interests more into account' than did the outgoing Bush administration.
Last week Hamas called upon Obama to regularize contacts with the organization, but Obama stated he would not do so until Hamas renounces terror and is willing to recognize Israel and its existing agreements with the Palestinian Authority.
Posted: November 05, 2008
By Aaron Klein
JERUSALEM – The Hamas terrorist group believes the election of Sen. Barack Obama is an "historic victory" for the world and an opportunity to change U.S. foreign policy toward engagement with America's foes, Ahmed Yousef, Hamas' chief political adviser in the Gaza Strip, told WND in an exclusive interview today.
Yousef, speaking by cell phone from Gaza, said Hamas is drafting a letter of congratulation to be sent tomorrow directly to Obama. He said the current draft of the letter praises the president-elect as "another John F. Kennedy, or great Roosevelt."
"We want to be one of the first to congratulate him," Yousef said.
"This is an historic day, a turning point. I think this is the very first time in history that one country's election concerned everyone everywhere all over [the] world," said Yousef. "Everybody is looking forward to Obama's change, for a change in the U.S. policy, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian equation, which is the mother of all conflicts."
Yousef told WND he believes an Obama administration will be more willing to engage in dialogue with Hamas.
He said Obama's job will be to "restore America's dignity in the world and put an end to the wars in the region."
Yousef took the occasion to blast the policies of President Bush, commenting he hopes "that after January the Bush administration will not be heard from again."
"We are sick of wars and conflict," the Hamas official said.
Yousef seemed aware his comments and Hamas' expected letter to Obama may generate some negative publicity for Obama, but he said he feels it important to "reach out and to express our thoughts and engage."
"I praised him six months ago, some people tried to use that against him. But I knew he would win. Like everyone else, we expected this important victory," he said.
Yousef was referring to an interview he gave to WND and WABC Radio in April in which he praised Obama and then found his comments had fueled a firestorm of accusations in the presidential campaign.
In April, Yousef stated he hoped Obama would become president and compared the Illinois senator to President John F. Kennedy.
"We like Mr. Obama, and we hope that he will win the election," Yousef told WND at the time.
"I hope Mr. Obama and the Democrats will change the political discourse. ... I do believe [Obama] is like John Kennedy, a great man with a great principle. And he has a vision to change America to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with humiliation and arrogance," Yousef said.
Sen. John McCain repeatedly used Yousef's remarks to criticize Obama's foreign policy.
Obama has condemned Hamas as a terrorist group that should be isolated until it recognizes Israel. He claimed McCain was using the Hamas comments as a "smear."
Hamas is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, rocket attacks, shootings and cross-border raids. Its official charter calls for the murder of Jews and destruction of Israel. Just today, Hamas members took responsibility for launching dozens of rockets from Gaza aimed at Jewish civilian population centers.
To interview Aaron Klein, contact M. Sliwa Public Relations by e-mail, or call 973-272-2861 or 212-202-4453.
Hamas says it held meeting with Obama advisers
Globe and Mail Update
November 11, 2008 at 10:16 AM EST
JERUSALEM — Advisers to Barack Obama held a secret meeting in Gaza with a leading member of Hamas during the last few weeks of the U.S. election campaign, according to the senior political adviser to Hamas's "prime minister" in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh.
Ahmed Yousef told the al Hayat newspaper in London in an article published today that the meeting, was between himself and a small number of Obama foreign policy advisers. Mr. Yousef is quoted as saying the emissaries asked him not to say anything about the meetings lest it give support to Mr. Obama's rival for president, Senator John McCain.
But Mr. Obama's Senior Foreign Policy Adviser Denis McDonough told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday: "This assertion is just plain false."
Speaking from Gaza, today, Ayman abu Leilah, aspokesman for Mr. Yousef, confirmed these statements as true, adding that the most recent meeting took place in early October "one month before the election." He said Mr. Yousef had first met the Obama people some years ago when he was studying in the United States.Mr. Yousef said that the connection to the Obama people is "ongoing."
Last week, Mr. Yousef said Hamas wanted to be among the first to congratulate Mr. Obama on his victory.
"This is an historic day, a turning point," he was quoted as saying. "Everybody is looking forward to Obama's change, for a change in the U.S. policy, particularly in the Israeli-Palestinian equation, which is the mother of all conflicts."
Hamas is the Arabic acronym for the Islamic Resistance Movement, a Palestinian organization committed to eliminating Israel and replacing it with an Islamic state. Considered a terrorist organization by the United States, Canada and other Western countries for its suicide attacks on Israel, it is popular among Palestinians for its network of schools, clinics and civic services, as well as its armed resistance to Israeli military occupation.
After the election victory of Hamas in January 2006, Canada suspended contacts with the Hamas-led government of the Palestinian Authority.
Mark Regev, foreign press spokesman in the Israeli Prime Mimister's Office, said the government had "absolutely no confirmation" that such a meeting ever took place, and said he would not comment on what they considered only a hypothetical situation.
Mr. Yousef, in his mid 50s, is from Rafah at the southernmost end of the Gaza Strip. He studied at university in Cairo, and completed graduate studies in political science in the United States.
In August, Chicago attorney Mazen Asbahi, the Muslim-outreach co-ordinator to the Obama presidential campaign, was forced to resign from his volunteer position when questions arose over his alleged involvement in an Islamic investment fund that was believed to have links to Hamas.