The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) has expressed alarm at reports that U.S. officials have conducted "direct meetings" with Hamas leaders and has called upon the Obama Administration to deny these reports if they are untrue.
The United States, Europe and Israel all classify the Hamas movement, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since June 2007, as a terrorist organization.
According to a Palestinian news outlet, the Hamas deputy foreign minister, Ghazi Hamad, said that senior American representatives, together with European ambassadors, held meetings with Hamas about two weeks ago in which they discussed removing Hamas from the list of designated terrorist organizations, but that "these contacts have not yet reached the level of decision-makers."
Hamad claimed, "These meetings which included U.S. officials close to the White House, were held away from the mass media and aimed at removing Hamas from the list of terrorist organizations."
"If these reports are true, than the Obama Administration has dishonored its commitment to maintain no contacts with Hamas and to adhere to the Quartet conditions that there can be no recognition of Hamas until and unless it renounces violence, recognizes Israel and abides by and implements all previous Israeli/Palestinian agreements,” said ZOA National President Morton A. Klein.
"The idea that the U.S. should deal with Hamas if it meets the three conditions is based on the extraordinarily naïve or malign idea that a bloodthirsty group of terrorists can become responsible and acceptable peace partners provided that they utter the right words on a few occasions when the cameras are rolling.
"Does the Obama Administration not recall that we went through the same charade with Yasser Arafat years ago? Arafat did verbally renounce terrorism, accept Israel's right to exist and even signed several agreements to that effect, yet he immediately continued terrorism, repeatedly called for Israel's destruction in Arabic and continued incitement,” Klein affirmed.
"Words and signatures mean nothing when they come from murderers,” he said. “Surely if such people are capable of murdering they are capable of lying.”
"The Obama Administration should be insisting at the very minimum on the rescission of the Hamas Charter; the dismantling of its terror squads and bomb-making factories; the complete overhaul of its education system and media broadcasting to remove all incitement to hatred and murder against Jews, Judaism and Israel; and strict adherence to such changes for at least one year before granting it any form of recognition,” he said.
"Talking to Hamas before it has done anything to satisfy even the flawed and meager conditions we have demanded of it will only result in putting off the day when Palestinians genuinely reform their society to purge it of jihadist and violent, rejectionist elements.
"If these reports are untrue, President Obama should say so without delay,” Klein concluded.