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Palestinians call for policy change

Article published on the 2008-11-05 Latest update 2008-11-06 10:09 TU

Obama supporters in Jerusalem react to the results of the US presidential election(Credit: Reuters)

Obama supporters in Jerusalem react to the results of the US presidential election
(Credit: Reuters)

Palestinians and Israelis alike are looking to US President-elect Barack Obama, who will inherit the mediation of the Middle East peace crisis when he assumes office in January. As the final votes are being tallied in the US, more than 40 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in response to the deaths of five Palestinians in Israeli operations in the territory.

Against this backdrop, the Islamist Hamas movement called on Obama to "learn from the mistakes of previous US presidencies".

"He must improve US ties with the rest of the world rather than wave the big American stick," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told the AFP news agency, after claiming that the outgoing Bush adminstration had "destroyed" Afghanistan, Iraq, Lebanon and Palestine.

Another Hamas spokesman, Sami Abu Zuri, said that Obama's stance on the Palestinian question was no different to that of defeated Republican candidate, John McCain.

Zuri's position is not universally accepted by Palestinians, however.

Mustafa Barghouti, a member of Palestinian parliament and a former minister, claims that there is no comparison to McCain, nor even toformer US president Bill Clinton.

"He is the most sensitive US president ever on the issues of injustice, discrimination and apartheid," he told RFI. "He's the president who has been the most exposed to Palestinian history."

Barghouti spoke of the importance of the American image in the Arab world, which he believes will not be changed unless there is a more balanced position on Palestinian issues.

"The same values that Barack Obama speaks about-- the values of justice, freedom, peace, and democracy-- these are the same values that can be applied to Palestinian society," he says.

Reaction: Mustapha Barghouti, Member of the Palestinian National Authority

05/11/2008 by Salil Sarkar

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has already telephoned Obama to try to accelerate efforts in dealing with the Israeli-Palestinan conflict.

Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesperson Ygal Palmor said Tuesday that Israeli-US relations face "a bright future", in reaction to Obama's victory in the presidential election.

Wahsington has huge potential influence over Israeli policy, according to correspondent Peretz Kidron.

"If the United States, under President Obama, were to demand Israeli concessions in order to achieve peace, there is no way the Israeli government would be able to avoid making concessions," he told RFI said. "That's the situation that's seen here."

Comment: Correspondent Peretz Kidron, Jerusalem

05/11/2008 by Tom Williams