Margaret Brennan presses Palestinian ambassador over not condemning Hamas

CBS News anchor Margaret Brennan on Sunday pressed Palestinian Ambassador to the U.K. Husam Zomlot over not condemning the militant group Hamas and its Oct. 7 attacks against Israel, in response to which Zomlot instead called for the U.S. to “be the peacemaker” and recognize the Palestinian state.

In an interview on CBS News’s “Face The Nation,” Brennan pointed to the Israeli government’s withholding of some tax revenues after it claimed the Palestinian Authority has not condemned Hamas adequately and the group’s Oct. 7 attacks on Israel that left hundreds of civilians dead.

Pressed by Brennan on if he wants to clear the air and specifically condemn Hamas and its attacks, Zomlot responded, “No, I want to clear the record.”

“First of all, the Palestinian Authority [PA] is not what represents the Palestinian people. It’s the PLO — it’s the Palestine Liberation Organization,” Zomlot continued. “I represented the PLO in Washington, now I represent the PLO in London. The PA does not have external arms; the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people is the PLO.”

Last week, Israel said it would proceed with a tax revenue transfer to the PA in the West Bank but would withhold funds for Gaza, where the PA helps fund public sector wages and electricity, according to a Reuters report.

Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, is recognized by the U.S. and several other countries as a terrorist organization.

“Let me clarify another matter — it’s the state of Palestine that will take over and protect its people and the West Bank in Jerusalem and in Gaza once the Palestinian occupied territory is liberated,” Zomlot said. “Number three — it is the opportunity for the U.S. to be the peacemaker.”

Brennan then interjected and said, “I am sure you are concerned about the tax revenue.”

Zomlot continued, “Number one, to designate,” before Brennan interjected again, “Do you want to clear the air and condemn —”

Zomlot appeared to ignore the repeated question, saying, “Designate the PLO from the terrorists list in the U.S. Congress.”

“The U.S. should recognize the state of Palestine and allow us to be a full member in the U.N. [United Nations], and the U.S. must immediately stop voting — vetoing, sorry, attempts at accountability,” Zomlot continued.

“These are decades worth of problems,” Brennan responded. “I’m just asking with this one specific issue on Oct. 7 and the tax revenue.”

“No, no, no. Not the case, not the case … because it’s the result of us not really focusing on the root … cause. This is the moment of the U.S. to play the role —” Zomlot responded.

Brennan again interjected, “I understand there are deep root causes, but on that specific condemnation, [that] should just be a very quick answer.”

Zomlot then referenced Brennan’s earlier interview with Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Michael Herzog, who spoke of the “unintended consequences” in “every war.”

Israel responded to Hamas’s Oct. 7 attacks with a bombardment of Gaza, which has included hundreds of airstrikes and several bombings that have killed thousands of civilians, according to the Hamas-controlled Gaza Health Ministry.

Zomlot argued Israel’s bombardment has been reflective of “Israeli military doctrine” for years.

“We have to leave the conversation there, but it’s very clear that it’s really the U.S. talking about a peace settlement — two-state solutions, and you did not clearly condemn that,” Brennan said. “So, ambassador, thank you for sharing the Palestinian point of view. We have to leave it there.”

Last week, President Biden called for a “concentrated effort” on the part of world leaders toward a two-state solution to the Israeli and Palestinian conflict.

Since entering office, Biden has held off on starting U.S.-mediated negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians. However, Biden said last week there is no returning to the “status quo” in the wake of Hamas’s attacks.

Israel has vowed to eliminate Hamas, though there is little understanding of who or what entity will lead the Gaza Strip, where an estimated 2.3 million Palestinians reside.

Hamas ousted the Palestinian Authority and took complete control of the strip in 2007.

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