Cheney: Hamas Wants to Torpedo Peace

Ad Feedback - JERUSALEM, Israel - On day two of his visit to Israel, US Vice President Dick Cheney told reporters that an Iranian- and Syrian-backed Hamas wants to torpedo the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

"It is clearly a difficult situation, in part, because I think it's true [and] there's evidence that Hamas is supported by Iran and Syria and they're doing everything they can to torpedo the peace process," Cheney said.

On Sunday, following meetings with Palestinian Authority (PA) officials in Ramallah, Cheney dismissed the latest step in efforts by the two rival PA factions -- Fatah and Hamas -- to reconcile.

After Fatah walked out on a meeting with Hamas officials in Yemen Thursday, the two factions signed a joint statement Sunday agreeing to continue working toward reconciliation.

"We, the representatives of Fatah and Hamas, agree to the Yemeni initiative as a framework to resume dialogue between the two movements to return the Palestinian situation to what it was before the Gaza incidents," the statement, dubbed the Sanaa Declaration because it was signed in the Yemeni city of Sanaa, read.

Cheney accepted PA officials' explanation that reconciliation between the two factions wasn't imminent.

"My conclusion after talking about this with the Palestinians is that they have established some preconditions before they would ever consider reconciliation, including a complete reversal of the Hamas takeover of Gaza," he said.

According to a senior Bush administration official, Hamas would have to make some fundamental changes before the US would work with what it currently considers a terrorist organization.

Meanwhile on Sunday, Cheney reiterated the Bush administration's vision of the establishment of a Palestinian state.

"The US remains strongly committed to the establishment of a Palestinian state," Cheney said. "Achieving that will require tremendous effort at the negotiating table and painful concessions on both sides. It will also require a determination to defeat those who are committed to violence and who refuse to accept the basic right of the other side to exist," he said.

Sources: The Jerusalem Post, Haaretz

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