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Hamas: Obama does not represent change

Hamas said that President Barack Obama's position toward the Palestinians does not represent change and will lead to the same mistakes as his predecessor.

world Updated: Jan 23, 2009 11:07 IST

Hamas said that President Barack Obama's position toward the Palestinians does not represent change and will lead to the same mistakes as his predecessor, shortly after the new leader made his first public comments on the Gaza crisis since his inauguration.

Obama said the cease-fire that recently ended the three week Israeli offensive in Gaza can only hold if Hamas stops firing rockets, Israel completes its withdrawal from Gaza and the US and its allies support an anti-smuggling system that prevents the militant Palestinian group from rearming.

Israel withdrew the last of its forces from Gaza on Wednesday, a day after Obama succeeded former President George W Bush. Palestinian officials say the fighting in Gaza killed some 1,300 people.

Beirut-based Hamas spokesman Osama Hamdan dismissed the new president's comments, saying "Obama is still on the same path as previous leaders and also will make the same mistakes as Bush that ignited the region instead of bringing stability."

"Obama is insisting on not bringing any change even though his campaign slogan promised to bring change," Hamdan told Al-Jazeera television in an interview. "I don't think this is a very successful step toward dealing with the region, and this will mean the next 4 years will be a failure for the region."

The spokesman said Obama should have talked about the need for Israel not to attack Gaza rather than for Hamas to stop its rocket fire.