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Bush administration officials have met with Hamas officials, a figure in the terrorist group said. “To be honest with you, yes, there are also people from the Republicans, from the Bush administration, who contacted us and who behind the scenes they did some contacts and some discussions with Hamas,” Ahmad Yousef said in an Oct. 19 interview with World Net Daily. Yousef, a sometime-adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas prime minister of the Gaza Strip, was asked if his organization would follow up on its meetings this year with former President Jimmy Carter and reach out to other U.S. figures. “It is not just members of the Democratic Party or figures from the Democratic Party. No. This is the Republicans also who send delegations to talk with Hamas with their leaders in Damascus, in West Bank and also in Gaza,” Yousef said Such contacts between U.S. government officials and Hamas are against the law and government officials have repeatedly refused to countenance them.

A State Department spokeswoman refused to comment on Yousef’s claim. In the interview, Haniyeh said his organization would welcome overtures from an Obama or a McCain administration, although he also made it clear he saw Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), the Democratic candidate, as likelier to have an “even-handed” approach in peacemaking. “We as Palestinians are thinking that we might have better luck with a new administration, maybe, if Obama wins the election,” he said. “I do believe he will change the American foreign policy.” A fragile cease-fire between Israel and Hamas is still holding, but the United States and Israel reject direct contacts until the group recognizes Israel, repudiates terrorism and honors past agreements.

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