Sen. John Kerry
JERUSALEM – Sen. John Kerry today reportedly accepted a letter for President Obama from Hamas leaders in Gaza.
WND first reported in November Hamas planned to send a letter to Obama. Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’ chief political adviser in Gaza, called Obama’s win a “historic victory” for the world and told WND that Hamas was sending a letter of congratulation to the president-elect.
Now Fox News has confirmed United Nations representatives in the Gaza Strip passed on a letter from Hamas to Kerry during the politician’s quick visit to U.N. installations in the coastal territory earlier today.
U.N. relief agency chief Karen Abu Zayd told the BBC the letter had been received by his agency and passed on to an unnamed American official.
At a visit today in Sderot, a city battered by regular Palestinian rocket fire from Gaza, Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, announced his trip to Gaza does not signal any change in U.S. policy toward Hamas.
Hamas’ official charter calls for the murder of Jews and the destruction of Israel. The Islamist group is responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks aimed at Jewish civilians.
Obama has repeatedly condemned Hamas as a terrorist organization that should be isolated until it renounces violence and recognizes Israel’s right to exist.
But that hasn’t stopped Hamas from heaping praise on the American leader.
Just after his win in November, Hamas’ Yousef called Obama’s presidency a “historic victory” for the world and an opportunity to change U.S. foreign policy toward engagement with America’s foes.
Yousef, speaking to WND by cell phone from Gaza in November, said Hamas was drafting a letter of congratulation to be sent directly to Obama. He said the current draft of the letter praised the president-elect as “another John F. Kennedy, or great Roosevelt.”
“We want to be one of the first to congratulate him,” Yousef said.
The Hamas leader said Obama’s job will be to “restore America’s dignity in the world and put an end to the wars in the region.”
Claim: Hamas in direct talks with U.S.
Earlier this month, Yoused told WND his organization had been in direct contact with Tony Blair, the former British prime minister and Mideast envoy for the international Quartet, which includes the U.S. among its ranks.
“Yes, we have been talking with Blair for at least five months,” said Yousef.
In recent comments, Blair said Hamas should be part of the Mideast peace process in what was reported as a “departure” from his previous policy.
Official U.S. policy supports sidestepping Hamas, but the group has been making major inroads toward ending its isolation.
Some trace Hamas’ claim of newfound international dialogue to Jimmy Carter’s visit in April, when the former president met with top Hamas officials.
Immediately after Carter’s meeting, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner confirmed Paris held talks with Hamas, and Norway’s deputy foreign minister, Raymond Johansan, admitted meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniya.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum confirmed to WND that Hamas this year “met a delegation from the European Parliament, from France, and from Italy, and Norway, and from the EU parliament and from Carter.”
“All of these are supporting Hamas, and they have a plan to support Palestinian rights and interests,” Barhoum said, speaking from Gaza.