Hamas unveiled its revised political program aimed at ending the terror group’s international isolation, but Israel warns that nothing has changed.
The Islamic Hamas terror group on Monday unveiled what had been billed as a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program aimed at ending the group’s international isolation, while Israel is warning that nothing has changed.
With the new manifesto, Hamas tries to rebrand itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by Egypt. It also drops explicit language calling for Israel’s destruction, though it retains the goal of eventually “liberating” all of “Palestine,” which includes the entirety of Israel, and so this constitutes only a semantic change.
Hamas clung to its eliminationist positions that led to its isolation in the first place. The group reaffirmed that it will not recognize Israel, refused to renounce violence or recognize previous interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals — the West’s long-standing conditions for dealing with Hamas.
The five-page program, a result of four years of internal deliberations, was presented at a news conference in Doha, Qatar, by Khaled Mashaal, the outgoing Hamas leader in exile.
The document reflects a “reasonable Hamas, that is serious about dealing with the reality and the regional and international surroundings, while still representing the cause of its people,” said Mashaal.
A copy of the program was distributed to journalists in Gaza who followed the news conference by video link.
In its founding charter, Hamas called for setting up an Islamic state in the territory between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River.
The new program for the first time raises the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines, saying it’s a “national consensus formula.” However, the wording suggests Hamas considers this to be an interim step, not a way of ending the its war on Israel.
The document does not contain an explicit call for Israel’s destruction, but says, “Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.”
“There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity,” the document states.
Furthermore, the Hamas document considers armed resistance against occupation as a strategic choice and “rejects any attempt to undermine the resistance and its arms.”
Attempting to Fool the World
Over the years, Hamas has carried out shooting, bombing and rocket terror attacks in Israel.
While the founding charter was filled with anti-Jewish references and anti-Semitic language, the new document stresses that Hamas bears no enmity toward Jews. It says its fight is with those who occupy “Palestinian lands.”
Israel said the document aimed to deceive the world into believing that Hamas was becoming more moderate.
“Hamas is attempting to fool the world but it will not succeed,” said David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “They dig terror tunnels and have launched thousands upon thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians. This is the real Hamas.”
Prior to the release of the document, Netanyahu’s office dismissed any purported policy changes by the Palestinian terror group, saying, “When Hamas stops building tunnels and spends its resources on civilian infrastructure and ceases educating toward killing Israelis—that will be true change. But that hasn’t happened.”
The Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD), a Washington-based think tank, said the new policy document is a “ploy” by the terror group to gain greater appeal among the international community and the Palestinian population.
“This is not a sign of moderation so much as a ploy to end the faction’s international isolation,” FDD said in a memo. “The other element of this new document is the internal Palestinian political angle. In acknowledging the 1967 borders and dropping its call for Israel’s destruction, Hamas is making a play at the rival party Fatah’s supporters.”
By: AP and United with Israel Staff