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Hamas accuses Trump of 'bias' toward Israeli occupation

May 21, 2017 9:57 P.M. (Updated: May 22, 2017 10:04 A.M.)
A Palestinian man waves the green flag of Hamas during a demonstration in Jerusalem on July 3, 2015. (AFP/Ahmad Gharabli/File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Hamas movement accused US President Donald Trump of betraying his bias towards the Israeli government, after Trump included Hamas in a list of terrorist groups that he said posed a global threat of "epic proportions."

In a speech delivered before leaders of Arab and Muslim-majority countries in the Saudi capital of Riyadh on Sunday, Trump said: "We now face a humanitarian and security disaster in this region that is spreading across the planet. It is a tragedy of epic proportions."

"No description of the suffering and depravity can begin to capture its full measure. The true toll of ISIS, Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, and so many others, must be counted not only in the number of dead. It must also be counted in generations of vanished dreams," he said, in his first speech delivered abroad since taking office.

Trump also briefly referred to his upcoming meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who was in attendance at the summit. “If these three (Abrahamic) faiths can join, peace in this world is possible, including peace between Israel and the Palestinians," Trump said.

Shortly after the speech was broadcast, Hamas reacted in a statement, accusing Trump of "complete bias" toward the policies of the Israeli occupation by designating the movement as a terrorist organization.

"Trump's remarks will not thwart our goal of liberating Palestine, nor will they hinder our people's steadfastness and resistance," Hamas said.

Despite being designated as a terrorist organization by Israel, the US, EU, and UK, as well as other powers, Hamas -- an acronym for Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, the Islamic Resistance Movement -- identifies as a Palestinian national resistance movement.

The group became the ruling party of the Gaza Strip's de facto government after Hamas won legislative elections across the Palestinian territory in 2006, but was subjected to a boycott by Israel and Western countries that led to a crippling Israeli blockade on the coastal enclave.

Israeli officials have routinely claimed that a trend of small-scale attacks by committed by Palestinians that peaked in Fall 2015 -- a number of which Hamas said were carried out by Palestinians affiliated to the group -- is part of an international rise in Islamist extremism.

However, many Palestinians have instead pointed chiefly to the frustration and despair brought on by Israel's decades-long military occupation of the Palestinian territory and the absence of a political horizon.

A general strike is set to take place on Monday to coincide with Trump’s arrival to Israel, with Palestinian leadership also calling for a “Day of Rage” on Tuesday during Trump's visit in Bethlehem, to express rejection to the resumption of peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel under US sponsorship.

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