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TEL AVIV – Will John Kerry use his position as secretary of state to push for dialogue with Hamas?
As a senator, Kerry has a questionable history when it comes to the Islamic terrorist group in power in the Gaza Strip.
In 2009, Kerry became the most senior U.S. politician to visit the Hamas-controlled Gaza, although at the time he did not meet with Hamas leaders, instead using his time in the coastal territory to tour United Nations camps there.
During his trip, there were reports that Kerry accepted a letter for President Obama from Hamas leaders.
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.
Fox News confirmed with U.N. representatives in Gaza that the Hamas letter was passed to Kerry.
During a tour of Israel the same week, Kerry announced his trip to Gaza did 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.
Regarding U.S. dialogue with Hamas, the State Department has several times iterated a set of preconditions: Hamas first must recognize Israel, renounce violence and abide by previous Israeli-Palestinian agreements.
Kerry, meanwhile, previously expressed support for American extremists who attempted a solidarity march to Hamas in Gaza.
In January 2010, WND reported Weather Underground bombers Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn, along with Code Pink founder Jodie Evans, were involved in provoking chaos on the streets of Egypt in an attempt to enter Gaza with the Free Gaza Movement to join in solidarity with the territory’s population and leadership.
The three helped to stir riots after the Egyptian government refused to allow a large number of protesters to enter neighboring Gaza. Eventually, the protesters accepted an Egyptian offer of allowing about 100 marchers into Gaza. Once in the territory, the marchers were reportedly met on the Gaza side by Hamas’ former Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh.
At the time of the march, Kwrry wrote a letter in support of a “humanitarian delegation from Massachusetts” to Gaza.
Members of the Ayers group documented on their blogs how Kerry’s letter was used at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo while attempting to pressure Egypt to let their group into Gaza.
Images of the letter were also posted on the Electronic Intifada website run by Ali Abunimah, who was with Evans’ group in Egypt and who, WND previously reported, spoke at pro-Palestinian events in the 1990s alongside Obama. In one such event, a 1999 fundraiser for Palestinian “refugees,” Abunimah recalled introducing Obama on stage.
Kerry’s office previously met with Code Pink members, WND has learned. Sarah Roche-Mahdi of Code Pink also is a member of the United for Peace and Justice Palestine Task Force, which met with Kerry’s staffers.
Hamas has several times claimed it talked with U.S. surrogates about eventually establishing open relations.
Sources within Hamas previously disclosed to WND a June 2009 meeting with former U.S. diplomat Thomas Pickering. The sources claimed the meeting was about opening future talks with the West.
The gathering allegedly took place in Geneva with two Hamas leaders, Bassem Naim and Mahmoud al-Zahar. Naim is Hamas’ health minister, while al-Zahar is one of the main Hamas leaders in Gaza.
Pickering’s meeting with Hamas in 2009 served as an “important step” to open eventual dialogue between the Islamic group and the Obama administration, Hamas’ chief political adviser in Gaza, Ahmed Yousef, told WND that year.
At the time, the State Department told the Jerusalem Post the meeting between Pickering and Hamas was not sanctioned by the White House.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly stressed Pickering acted as a private citizen. Kelly said he was unaware of any prior U.S. governmental coordination with the former diplomat about the meeting with Hamas.
Pickering is currently President Obama’s lead investigator on the Benghazi attacks.
Meanwhile, yesterday the Obama administration announced Kerry will skip Israel as part of his first trip abroad as secretary of state.
Many had expected Kerry to visit Israel ahead of Obama’s own trip to the country next month.
Kerry will instead visit nine nations in Europe and the Middle East – Britain, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi and Qatar – from Feb. 24 until March 6.