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Abbas congratulates Obama, Hamas urges end to Israel bias

Nov. 7, 2012 2:00 A.M. (Updated: Nov. 14, 2012 6:53 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday congratulated US President Barrack Obama after he defeated his Republican challenger.

Abbas expressed hope that Obama would continue his efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority news agency Wafa reported.

PLO negotiator Saeb Erekat expressed hope that Obama would stand by the Palestinian decision to gain non-member state status in the United Nations, Wafa reported.

He called on Obama to act against Israeli settlement activities and other violations against the Palestinian people.

Erekat also expressed hope that Obama would focus on democracy, peace and stability in the region in his second term and implement a two-state solution with Israel.

In Gaza City, the Hamas government called on Obama to re-evaluate his foreign policy concerning Palestine, and end his bias towards Israel.

"We listened to the moderate speech by Obama in the wake of his first presidential victory, but his policy did not fit into this discourse and in front of him now is an opportunity to apply what he had promised the people of the region away from the pressures of the Israeli lobby," Taher al-Nunu said.

He called on Obama to build ethical policies to deal with the region's issues, and restore the rights of the Palestinian people.

Hamas official Sami Abu Zuhri told Ma'an that any change in opinion by the Arab and Islamic world concerning the United States would depend on whether Obama rebalanced US foreign policy towards the region's issues.

Obama's re-election is a chance for him to abandon his biased policies towards Israel, Abu Zuhri added.

Israel alliance 'stronger than ever'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also congratulated Obama and said the strategic alliance between their two countries was "stronger than ever".

"I will continue to work with President Obama to ensure the interests that are vital for the security of Israel's citizens," Netanyahu, who has had a testy relationship with the US leader, said in a short written statement.

One major rift between the two leaders has been their approach in dealing with Iran's nuclear aspirations, with the United States urging Netanyahu not to launch any go-it-alone military action.

Netanyahu faces his own electoral test in January, when Israel holds a national ballot that opinion polls predict his right-wing Likud party will win.

Netanyahu's defense minister, Ehud Barak, who was a frequent visitor to Washington over the past four years, said in his own statement he had no doubt Obama will continue his policies, which "fundamentally support Israel's security".

"It is possible to overcome any differences in positions that may arise," Barak said.
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