WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Hamas leader praised President Obama’s "new language" toward the group.
"It’s the first step in the right direction toward a dialogue without conditions, and we welcome this," said exiled Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in a televised speech Thursday in Damascus, according to news reports.
Meshaal was referring to Obama’s Cairo speech earlier in the month in which he stated that Hamas "does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities."
Meshaal said, though, that Obama was too sympathetic to Israel.
“Obama spoke widely about the suffering of Jews and their Holocaust in Europe but ignored the talk about our suffering and Israel’s Holocaust that has been going on for decades against our people,” he said.
In the same speech, Meshaal rejected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s condition that a Palestinian state must be demilitarized and that the Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state.
"The state that Netanyahu talked about, with control on it by land, sea and air, is a freak entity and a big prison, not a country fit for a great people," Meshaal said.
As for Israel being a Jewish state, Meshaal said Palestinians could not give up the right of return and said a Jewish state would be "racist."
"We warn against any Arab leniency on this issue," he said. "The calls by the leaders of the enemy for the Jewishness of Israel are racist, not different to Italian fascism and Hitler’s Nazism," Meshaal said.
He also called for the removal from the region of U.S. Lt.-Gen. Keith Dayton, who is training Palestinian security forces.