The Palestinian resistance group Hamas has disparaged new US President Barack Obama, saying he is repeating the same mistakes of the Bush administration.
"I think this is an unfortunate start for President Obama in the region and the Middle East issue," Osama Hemdan, Hamas representative in Lebanon, told the Doha-based television.
"Obama insists that no change will happen. He is trying to move along the same path that previous US presidents have followed."
Laying out his vision on the Middle East peace, Obama said that Hamas must recognize Israel before any contacts with the group.
"For years Hamas has launched thousands of rockets at innocent Israeli citizens. No democracy can tolerate such danger to its people," Obama said.
He said Hamas must abide by Quartet conditions on recognizing Israel, halting "violence" and upholding previous agreements.
"To be a genuine party to peace … Hamas must meet clear conditions, recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence and abide by past agreements," he told a press conference as he named veteran negotiator George Mitchell as his Middle East peace envoy.
Obama said that the US would support a "credible anti-smuggling and interdiction regime, so that Hamas cannot rearm."
The Bush administration has rejected any contacts with Hamas, which overwhelmingly won the Palestinian legislative elections in 2006.
The US and Israel also led an international campaign to impose a crippling siege on Gaza, home to 1.6 million Palestinians.
Obama said he would send his Middle East peace envoy to the region to secure the setting up of two states living side by side in peace.
"It will be the policy of my administration to actively and aggressively seek a lasting peace between Israel and the Palestinians," he said.
The new US president said that was deeply concerned by the suffering of the Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.
"I was deeply concerned by the loss of Palestinian and Israeli life in recent days, and by the substantial suffering and humanitarian needs in Gaza," he said.
"Our hearts go out to Palestinian civilians who are in need of immediate food, clean water and basic medical care, and who have faced suffocating poverty for far too long.
"Just as the terror of rocket fire aimed at innocent Israelis, is intolerable, so, too, is a future without hope for the Palestinians."
Obama, however, renewed the US support to what he said Israel’s right to "self-defense".
More than 1,300 Palestinians were killed and 5,450 wounded in 22 days of air, sea and land Israeli attacks in Gaza.
Hamas said that Obama is repeating the same mistakes of the Bush administration.
"It seems that Obama is trying to repeat the same mistakes that George Bush made without taking into consideration Bush’s experience that resulted in the explosion of the region instead of reaching stability and peace in it," said Hemdan.
"It looks like the next four years, if it continues with the same tone, will be a total failure."
(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)