Hamas: Israel-Syria talks won't affect our 'strategic' ties with Damascus
U.S. says doesn't object to talks, won't participate; Abbas: We hope the parties reach peaceful solution.
A Hamas official said on Wednesday that the militant Palestinian group does not oppose the Israel-Syria peace negotiations announced earlier in the day, but stressed that the talks would not affect the organization's relationship with Syria.
"These negotiations will not be reflected on the nature of the relationship between Hamas and Syria. These relations are strategic and strong," said Sami Abu Zuhri, a Hamas official in Gaza.
A significant Israeli stipulation for peace is that Damascus cut its ties with Palestinian Militant groups, some of which maintain offices in Syria. Hamas' political leader Khaled Meshal is himself based in Damascus.
"Syria has occupied land and as an independent state it has the right to look into the way it sees suitable to regain its occupied land," Abu Zuhri stated.
The Hamas official continued: "Our policy is that we do not intervene with the policies of other countries and in their internal affairs. At the same time we stress Hamas's own policies regarding not recognizing the Israeli occupation and not holding negotiations with them."
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who is currently involved his own peace talks with Israel, responded favorably to the announcements.
"We are hearing news about Syria and Israel, we hope that the two parties will reach a peaceful solution," Abbas said.
The senior negotiator for Abbas' Palestinian Authority, Saeb Erekat, also welcomed the news. "We want to reach a comprehensive peace and therefore we support talks between Israel and Syria," he said.
Meanwhile, the White House said on Wednesday it does not object to the indirect talks between Israel and Syria, and was not surprised by that development.
"The United States is not participating. This decision was undertaken by Israel, we were not surprised by it, and we do not object to it," White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said.
"We hope that this is a forum to address various concerns we all have with Syria - Syria's support of terrorism, repression of its own people, and so we will see how this progresses," she said.
David Welch, a senior U.S. State Department official, said: "I think Turkey played a good and useful role in this regard. Israel and Turkey have apprised us in the past of these discussions and kept us informed."
The European Union, for its part, welcomed the announcements by Israel and Syria.
"I welcome what appears to be encouraging news about the Israeli-Syrian track," said Marc Otte, the EU's special representative for the Middle East.
The EU official added: "The Turkish government has to be commended for its efforts to facilitate contacts between the two parties. The EU has always supported a comprehensive settlement of the Israeli-Arab conflict and continues to work in this direction."