Bush rejects State Dept. plan for Hamas

Monday, July 28, 2003

The Bush administration has stressed that it does not plan to adopt a State Department proposal to reform Palestinian insurgency groups.

Officials said President George Bush has not agreed to a proposal drafted by the State Department on guidelines for the rehabilitation of such groups as Hamas and Islamic Jihad. The department's proposal, discussed with the National Security Council, would offer guidelines on how these groups could be converted into political movements.

"His position is that Hamas is an enemy of peace and that Hamas needs to be dismantled because it is a terrorist organization," White House spokesman Scott McClellan said on Friday. "That's his position."

McClellan said the administration continues to regard Hamas and Hizbullah as terrorist groups. The spokesman said Bush regards people who "carry out attacks on innocent civilians are terrorists, indeed."

"They can continue to be terrorist organizations on the terrorist organization list," McClellan said. "And we've made it very clear that people need to stop supporting those organizations and that they need to be dismantled."

But administration officials said Bush continues to support Palestinian Authority efforts to win the release of Hamas and Jihad detainees from Israeli prisons. The officials said the president believes that such a release is important to maintain the current truce declared by Islamic insurgency groups a month ago.

On Sunday, Israel's Cabinet voted 14 to 9 to release Hamas and Jihad members. Ministers said Sharon is expected to come under further U.S. pressure to release Palestinian prisoners, including those convicted of killing Israelis.

"The Americans are already pressing us to release terrorists with blood on their hands," Housing Minister Effi Eitam said.

In all, Sharon has agreed to release 540 Palestinian prisoners, including 210 Hamas and Jihad members. A Sharon aide relayed the decision as Israeli authorities announced the search for an aide of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat in Ramallah suspected of planning suicide bombings in Israeli cities.

Authorities said the military and security services arrested a Fatah insurgent charged with planning to send two women to blow themselves up in nightclubs in Netanya or Tel Aviv. The Arafat aide was said to have been given haven in Arafat's headquarters in Ramallah.

Print this Article Print this Article Email this article Email this article Subscribe to this Feature Free Headline Alerts
Search Worldwide Web Search Search WorldTrib Archives

See current edition of

Return to World Front Cover