RAMALLAH, August 16 (JMCC) - In an interview with Russia Today, Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Hanieh
expresses disappointment over US policy, and praises Russia's involvement. He also addresses the rise of more radical Islamist groups in the Gaza Strip
Q: How do you see Barack Obama's new strategy and the prospects of the plan for a new Middle East?Read
IH: After Obama's election, we had certain expectations regarding his new policy, especially after his speech in Cairo last year. None of the points he made in it was implemented though. We expected a real change in the situation; we expected that the USA would influence Israel's policy and the blockade would be lifted. Now, a year-and-?-half after Obama`s election, we see that all his declarations remain just words. They are not implemented and they influence nothing. Today, people have little hope on his inspired speeches and expect no help from him. At the same time, however, he still has the time and opportunity to change the situation.
Q: Russia’s President, Dmitry Medvedev met with political bureau member Khaled Mashal. Are these talks just words too?
IH: Russia is a great country that has long-lasting stable relations with the Middle East countries. Russia supports the rights of the Palestinian nation. We have good relationship with the Russian leaders. Hamas political leaders have visited Russia and its government a number of times.
The meeting between President Medvedev and Mr. Mashal was a great support for the Palestinians. Russian President’s words to Khaled Mashal were very important. He said that Hamas was a part of the Palestinian peace process, and an important part of the political system; and that political negotiations on the Palestine’s future shouldn’t be held without the participation of Fatah and Hamas. He emphasized the importance of national reconciliation and unity, and noted that external pressure wasn’t good for this reconciliation.
The fact that Russia doesn’t consider Hamas a terrorist organization is very important, as well as its appreciation of the confidence Hamas enjoys among Palestinians. Russia recognizes the outcome of the Palestinian election and respects the choice of the Palestinian nation.
Q: Could you explain what happened a year ago with a small group that the media referred to as Al-Qaeda in Gaza?
IH: These people weren’t Al-Qaeda, but rather a small group that wanted to follow Al-Qaeda’s ideas, but wasn’t connected to them. We were aware of them and we tried to negotiate. We began by discussing the issues of resistance from the viewpoint of Islam and general strategy. They refused to negotiate, and their leader blew himself up. 22 people were killed, including six policemen. I can say that this group no longer exists.
the interview at Russia Today