Hamas official reaches out to Obama in letter


WASHINGTON (JTA) — A Hamas official asked President Obama to reach out to his organization in a letter that went to U.S. Sen. John Kerry.

According to media reports, the letter written by Hamas foreign policy adviser Ahmed Yousef was passed to Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, when he visited the Gaza Strip last week by Karen AbuZayd, who heads the United Nations Relief and Works Agency .

A Kerry spokesman said the senator was not even aware of the letter, which was in the middle of a stack of documents, until the media reported on its existence. Without reading it, Kerry gave the document to the American consultate in Jerusalem so it could be sent to the White House.

The United States considers Hamas a terrorist organization and has no official contact with the group.

Hamas leaders have disavowed the letter and Youssef, considered a moderate in the group, said he was writing on his own behalf. He told The New York Times that he wrote that “there can be no peace without Hamas."

“We congratulated Mr. Obama on his presidency and reminded him that he should live up to his promise to bring real change to the region," Youssef said. "The Palestinian issue is the key to resolving all the problems in the area. We also said that Mr. Kerry’s visit to Gaza showed that the new administration has a clarity of vision and is not controlled by Israeli propaganda.”

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