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Hamas Denies Mashal Message to Obama via King Abdullah: “We Support 2-States”

The Saudi Arabian newspaper Al-Sharq on Wednesday reported that Hamas chief Khaled Mashal, on a visit to Jordanian King Abdullah II in Amman, asked the monarch to inform US President Barack Obama that “in principle” his faction accepts a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Hamas official Yahya Moussa was immediately quoted by the Palestinian Ma’an news agency as denying the report. He told Ma’an that acceptance of two-states implies recognition of Israel and that’s never going to happen. Abdullah, who has been involved in efforts to jump-start the stalled peace process, is a strong proponent of setting a specific timetable for milestones in the quest for peace. Mashal, who recently left Damascus after being Hamas’ leader-in-exile there for many years, is reported to be interested in seeking the chairmanship of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), succeeding Mahmoud Abbas who has said he is not interested in remaining in the position. Mashal would be problematic for the United States because Hamas is listed on the State Department list of foreign terrorist organizations which precludes the US from interacting with the faction and presumably a Palestinian government in which Hamas participates. Some observers believe the Al-Sharq report could be a trial balloon aimed at creating a mechanism for Washington to accept Hamas as part of the next Palestinian government as it does with the Lebanese government in which Hizbullah is a major player. Palestinian elections are overdue and cannot be held until Fatah-Hamas reconciliation progresses.