Hamas brands Obama visit a trap

March 09, 2013 - 2:56:29 am

GAZA CITY: The Hamas prime minister charged yesterday that an upcoming regional visit by US President Barack Obama was a “trap” aimed at undermining Palestinian reconciliation.

“We are convinced that Obama’s visit will not produce the necessary breakthrough for our people,” Ismail Haniyah said at a sermon during weekly prayers in the Gaza Strip’s Al Omari mosque.

And he urged rival Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, who is due to meet Obama at his West Bank headquarters, not to be deluded by the visit or sacrifice efforts to seal Palestinian reconciliation.

Palestinian Authority President Abbas should “not fall into the trap of Obama’s visit to the region and shut the door to reconciliation,” said Haniyah.

Obama’s visit “will focus on regional developments and will only address our cause in a way to undermine Palestinian national reconciliation efforts and to relaunch the absurd so-called negotiations” with Israel, he said.

Obama is due in Israel at the end of this month on a trip that will also see him travel to see Abbas in the the West Bank and also visit Jordan on the first foreign policy mission of his second term.

On Thursday, he met American Jewish community leaders at the White House and said there would be no big Middle East peace initiative on the table when he arrives in Israel for his first visit as US leader.

A US official said “the president noted that the trip is not dedicated to resolving a specific policy issue, but is rather an opportunity to consult with the Israeli government about a broad range of issues — including Iran, Syria, the situation in the region, and the peace process.”

Palestinian-Israeli peace talks have been deadlocked for more than two years.

Abbas wants to renew peace talks in tandem with a freeze on Jewish settlement construction in the occupied West Bank and in east Jerusalem.

Hamas and the Fatah faction of Abbas signed in April 2011 a reconciliation agreement, but nearly two years later divisions remained over how to apply the deal.