A report released Wednesday insisted that the Obama administration has been engaging in talks with Hamas, a US State Department designated terrorist group that rules over the Gaza Strip, for more than six months.
According to a BuzzFeed report, two “senior diplomatic sources” confirmed with the news organization that the US and Hamas have been holding secret talks. Officials representing the two sides reportedly met several times in Qatar, Egypt, and Jordan.
“Our administration needed to hear from them that this unity government would move toward democratic elections and toward a more peaceful resolution with the entire region… It was important to have that line of communication,” said one of BuzzFeed’s senior diplomatic administration sources.
The news comes a little over a month after Hamas has officially become part of the newly reunified Palestinian governing structure. Chronologically speaking, the senior officials’ argument may seem confusing to some, implying as it does that the US was secretly meeting with Hamas five months before the unity agreement even came to fruition.
The State Department denied the existence of such talks. “As you all know, Hamas is a designated foreign terrorist organization. The United States does not and will not provide it assistance. Per longstanding U.S. policy, we do not have any contact with Hamas. No members of Hamas and no ministers affiliated with Hamas, as I said, are part of this government,” said State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf.
Seemingly contradicting the State Department’s own policy on negotiating with terrorist groups, and much to the chagrin of the Israeli government, Secretary of State John Kerry said Wednesday that the United States would be willing to work with a Palestinian unity government that includes Hamas.
“I’m deeply troubled by the announcement that the United States will work with the Palestinian government backed by Hamas,” said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after hearing about the Obama administration’s willingness to work with the Hamas-inclusive Palestinian government.
Since January, Hamas-backed militant Islamists in the Gaza Strip have fired over 150 rockets into Israel’s sovereign territory. Hamas’s top leaders have been on the record recently expressing that a Palestinian’s main purpose in life is to become a martyr – accomplishing martyrdom through suicide-terrorist attacks, “jihad on the path to Allah.”