TEL AVIV, Israel – After several denials and conflicting news media reports, it has been confirmed that Hamas gave Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., a letter to pass on to President Obama in hopes of changing U.S. policy toward the terrorist organization.
Ahmed Yousef, Hamas’ chief political adviser in Gaza, confirmed the communication, a two-page appeal which Yousef wrote, congratulating Obama on his victory last November and petitioning the U.S. president to open dialogue with his Islamist group.
Kerry passed Yousef’s letter on to the U.S. consulate in Jerusalem yesterday, after accepting it one day earlier from UN officials during a visit to the Gaza Strip.
FoxNews.com quotes Kerry spokesman Frederick Jones as claiming the Democratic senator was not aware the letter was from Hamas and only heard of its true origin from news media reports, prompting him to forward it to the consulate.
Kerry, who heads the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, became the most senior U.S. government official to enter Gaza since 2000. The Massachusetts lawmaker announced his trip did not signal any change in U.S. policy toward Hamas.
But Mushir al-Massri, a Hamas spokesman and parliament member, told WND Kerry’s visit to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip was a “big sign” of a “change” in the U.S. position toward the Islamist group.
Speaking from Gaza, al-Massri said, “This is part of a new era regarding Hamas in the international community.”
“Kerry can say there is no change,” al-Massri continued, “but Hamas controls Gaza. It’s very important that he came here. I hope next time the U.S. can more openly support 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 Obama’s 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.”