Hamas: Obama aides met with us
Robert Malley, an anti-Israel Clinton Administration official who resigned officially from President-elect Barack Obama’s presidential campaign in May due to his on-going meetings with Hamas officials, is still advising the President-elect, contrary to an unequivocal statement by Senator Obama’s spokesman at the time.
A report in Middle East Newsline says that Obama aides disclosed that the President-elect has sent “senior foreign policy adviser Robert Malley [emphasis added] to Egypt and Syria over the last few weeks to outline the Democratic candidate’s policy on the Middle East. The aides said Malley, who served in the administration of President Bill Clinton, relayed a pledge from Obama that the United States would seek to enhance relations with Cairo as well as reconcile with Damascus” (‘Obama Promises Improved Ties With Egypt, Syria,’ Middle East Newsline, November 5, 2008). A Malley aide also disclosed that Malley had met with Syrian president Bashar Assad and Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. He said that “the tenor of the messages was that the Obama administration would take into greater account Egyptian and Syrian interests” (John Perazzo, Obama’s Road to Damascus, FrontPage Magazine, November 11, 2008).
Separate reports indicate that Obama advisers (of whom Malley might have been one) also met with Hamas officials in Gaza. Ahmad Yousuf, a senior political adviser to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, said that during the recent U.S. presidential race a secret meeting took place: “We were in contact with a number of Obama’s aides through the Internet, and later met with some of them in Gaza, but they advised us not to come out with any statements, as they may have a negative effect on his election campaign and be used by Republican candidate John McCain (to attack Obama)” (Roee Nahmias, ‘Hamas says met Obama advisors in Gaza,’ Yediot Ahronot, November 11, 2008).
Giving greater credence to the accuracy of these reports, former President Jimmy Carter has said to CNN that, “he [Obama] promised me personally” that he would “not wait even a month after he was president to start working on the Middle East peace process.” Carter added that he was “thrilled” that Obama would bring a “new approach” to the peace process (‘Carter: Obama vowed Mideast on front burner,’ Jewish Telegraphic Agency, November 12, 2008).
Senator Obama was criticized in May for having Malley on his team of Middle East advisers after the latter admitted to being in regular contact with Hamas as part of his work with the George Soros-funded International Crisis Group (ICG), whose Middle East and North Africa Program he directs. Malley has worked with officials from several countries, urging them to recognize Hamas, which calls in its Charter for the destruction of Israel and the murder of Jews. At the time, Obama spokesman Ben LaBolt stated, “Sen. Obama strongly opposes talking to Hamas, a terrorist group committed to Israel‘s destruction. As president, he will work to isolate Hamas and target its resources, and rejects any dialogue until Hamas recognizes Israel, renounces terrorism, and abides by previous agreements.” LaBolt also gave an unequivocal assurance that Malley had provided only “informal advice to the campaign in the past,” and that Malley had “no formal role in the campaign and he will not play any role in the future.” (Lynn Sweet, ‘Obama adviser who met with Hamas resigns,’ Chicago Sun Times, May 11, 2008)
Malley, in addition to his post at the ICG, served as President Bill Clinton’s Special Assistant for Arab-Israeli Affairs (1998-2001), and as Clinton National Security Adviser Sandy Berger’s Executive Assistant (1996-1998). In a July 2001 New York Times op-ed, Malley alleged that Israel, not the Palestinian Authority (PA), was to blame for the failure of the 2000 Camp David peace talks. He also wrote further pieces co-authored with Hussein Agha, a former adviser to Yasser Arafat, blaming Israel and exonerating Arafat for the failure of the peace process. Malley’s claims are completely at variance with the detailed accounts of the 2000 negotiations provided by President Clinton, former American Middle East envoy Dennis Ross and former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, all of whom pointed to Palestinian rejection without counter-offer of the peace proposals (John Perazzo, Obama’s Road to Damascus, FrontPage Magazine, November 11, 2008).
ZOA National President Morton A. Klein said, “We view these revelations with alarm and shock. In May, the Obama campaign made it crystal clear that Senator Obama did not agree with Malley’s support for recognizing Hamas without Hamas making substantive changes to its platform and behavior. It also was unequivocal that Malley would have no future role whatsoever in the Obama campaign.
“It appears that we were deceived. Obama advisers are reported to have conducted talks with Hamas, listed as a terrorist group by the State Department, and without Hamas having met any of the conditions President Obama publicly laid down as preconditions for such talks. It is also a serious matter that such talks were conducted by private citizens, rather than by a decision of the U.S. government. And despite explicit words dissociating Robert Malley from the Obama campaign, Malley is now reported to have continued to work for the President-elect at the highest level, meeting with Syrian and Egyptian officials, despite Malley’s on-going work trying to legitimize Hamas. Clearly, it was inaccurate and misleading of Mr. LaBolt to say Robert Malley was not part of the campaign while he continued to work for Senator Obama.
“We urge we urge President-elect Obama to immediately clarify if these reports are accurate or not.”