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U.S. Envoy to U. N. Says Hamas Still a Terrorist Organization

30 March 2006

Ambassador Bolton calls on Hamas to conform to international demands

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton told the U.N. Security Council March 30 that acting Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has expressed a willingness to pursue compromises with the Palestinians in the interest of peace, while Hamas has done nothing to change the U.S. view that it is a terrorist organization.

Hamas, which won a majority of seats on the Palestinian Legislative Council in January elections, recently formed a government to take charge of the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Bolton said Hamas “will now have to bear responsibility for the decisions it makes and face up to the consequences of those decisions, which will shape the international community's approach to issues involving the Palestinians and regional peacemaking efforts.”

He said Hamas has been responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians and that the group “has harmed the Palestinian peoples' aspirations for statehood.”

Future U.S. assistance to the Palestinian government would be measured against the PA’s willingness to adhere to the demands of the European Union, Russia, the United Nations and the United States  (collectively known as the Quartet) in their January 30 statement, which called for a renunciation of violence, recognition of Israel and respect for existing agreements between the two parties, Bolton said. (See related article.)

He added that the United States would judge Hamas by its actions and not its words.

Bolton also said that U.S. Security Coordinator between Israel and the Palestinians General Keith Dayton would not engage in discussions with Palestinian security forces answering to members of a Hamas-led government.

For more information on U.S. policy in the region, see The Middle East: A Vision for Peace.

Following is the text of Bolton’s statement to the Security Council:

(begin text)

United States Mission to the United Nations
Office of Press and Public Diplomacy

Press Release
March 30, 2006

Statement by Ambassador John R. Bolton, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations, on the Situation in the Middle East, in the Security Council, March 30, 2006

Thank you Mr. President.  I'd also like to thank Assistant Secretary-General Kalomoh for his briefing.

The United States remains committed to President Bush's vision of two democratic states, Israel and Palestine, living side-by-side, in peace and security.

The Roadmap imposes a phased series of obligations on both sides to take concrete steps to create the necessary conditions to permit final status talks to go forward. Partnership between the parties is a critical element.  Just as Israel has obligations under the Roadmap, so too do the Palestinians.

The international community has made clear that a new Palestinian Authority government must disavow terror and violence, recognize Israel's right to exist, and accept previous obligations and agreements between the parties. This was the position taken by the Quartet in their statement of January 30.

These requirements are based upon long-standing principles and are applicable to any Palestinian government. However, as Secretary Rice has said, HAMAS, as the majority party in the new Palestinian Legislative Council, will now have to bear responsibility for the decisions it makes and face up to the consequences of those decisions, which will shape the international community's approach to issues involving the Palestinians and regional peace-making efforts.

On the Israeli side, we note acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's remarks on March 28, following his party's success in the Israeli elections, calling for a return to negotiations and declaring that Israel is ready to compromise for the sake of peace.

We will continue to judge HAMAS by its actions, not its words. We have seen nothing that would cause us to change our position towards HAMAS, a Designated Foreign Terrorist Organization under U.S. law that is responsible for the murder of hundreds of innocent civilians, has long been an enemy of peace in the region, and has harmed the Palestinian peoples' aspirations for statehood.

Our position and that of the Quartet is consistent: future assistance to the new Palestinian Authority government will be reviewed against that government's commitment to the principles of nonviolence, recognition of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements and obligations. We would expect that measures would be in place to ensure that any such assistance cannot be used by those affiliated with a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

And I note this morning the remarks of new Foreign Minister Mahmoud Zahar who said "America is committing big crimes against the Arab and Islamic countries."  We obviously unequivocally reject that proposition and I would note also to Foreign Minister Zahar that casual slander is an inauspicious way to begin.

As noted in the January 30 Quartet statement, we also remain concerned about the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people. The United States has long been a supporter of the Palestinian people through substantial contributions of our foreign assistance funds.

The United States continues to be devoted to the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people, and we shall remain so. We firmly believe this is important for the people in the Palestinian Territories, that they should have a chance to enjoy lives that include safety, security, and economic well-being.

Until now, U.S. Security Coordinator Dayton's focus has been on frequent and direct coordination between the Israeli Defense Forces and Palestinian security forces, including on such issues as the Gaza border crossings, and continuous liaison with the Palestinian and Israeli security leadership.

With a new PA government taking power, General Dayton will have no contact with Palestinian security forces who report to any members of a Hamas-led cabinet. General Dayton's role will be re-defined in light of changing circumstances.

The Roadmap requires obligations from both parties. We believe it is important that there be a Palestinian partner for peace and in that context we have welcomed President Abbas' commitment to pursuing such an agenda.

We remain in ongoing discussions with our colleagues in the Quartet regarding the way forward and we will continue to discuss the best means to support the Palestinian people.

Thank you, Mr. President.

(end text)

(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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