Arabs Across the Middle East Express Preference for Obama

Report: Hamas says McCain, Obama are both 'awful' options; Shas: Israel must demand commitment J'lem won't be divided.

News coverage of the American elections on Tuesday flooded the Middle East, where it appeared residents of a region heavily implicated by U.S. foreign policy were rooting for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama.

Palestinian, Syrian and Iranian leaders have expressed hope, either privately or publicly, of an Obama victory. Palestinians believe Obama is more likely than his Republican rival, John McCain, to work toward the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Damascus and Tehran, meanwhile, think he is more likely to advance diplomatic means of ending the two countries' international isolation.

Report: Hamas says McCain, Obama are both 'awful' options

Hamas officials voiced skepticism on Tuesday that the United States presidential election would result in a change in U.S. policy in the Middle East and toward the group, Israel Radio reported.

Israel Radio quoted a Hamas spokesman in Gaza, Fawzi Barhoom, as describing the choice between the Republican candidate John McCain and his Democratic rival Barack Obama as one between two "awful" options.

However, Hamas' Damascus-based political chief Khaled Meshal said that the Palestinian militant group would welcome any change in U.S. policy especially if it corrected what he termed "bias" toward Israel.

He added that Hamas is prepared to work with any U.S. president.

Meanwhile, Israel Radio also reported that Deputy Prime Minister and Shas Chairman Eli Yishai said on Tuesday that Israel must demand a public commitment from the next U.S. president that Jerusalem will not be divided.

One of the key reasons Yishai cited for his ultra-Orthodox party not joining a coalition headed by Kadima Chairwoman Tzipi Livni was her refusal to rule out reaching a compromise on Jerusalem in peace talks with Palestinains.