Authors: JPOST.COM STAFF, REUTERS
Posted on May 1, 2017
The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas on Monday dropped its longstanding call for Israel’s destruction, but said it still rejected the country’s right to exist and backs «armed struggle» against it.
Hamas supports the establishment of a transitional Palestinian state along the borders from 1967, its leader Khaled Meshaal said on Monday in Doha while announcing the group’s new policy document.
The proposed plan was released on the same day as Israel prepared to celebrate 69 years of Independence Monday evening.
«The charter stresses that the occupation has no right over Al-Aqsa, that belongs to our nation,» Mashal said before adding that «we do not recognize the Zionist entity, and there is no limitation over our rights.»
Mashal also said that Hamas’ struggle was not against all Jews but was rather against «the Zionist project.» He also claimed that the terror organization ruling in the Gaza Strip «rejected extremism on a religious, ethnic or racial background.»
Israel responded to the announcement by accusing Hamas of trying to «fool the world,» while the group’s main Palestinian political rival, the Fatah faction of President Mahmoud Abbas, also reacted coolly to the policy shift.
The publication of the policy document comes two days before Abbas is due to visit Washington, and days after President Donald Trump told Reuters he may travel to Israel this month and sees no reason why there should not be peace between Israel and the Palestinians.
«Hamas is attempting to fool the world but it will not succeed,» said David Keyes, a spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
«They build terror tunnels and have launched thousands upon thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians,» he said. «This is the real Hamas.»
Echoing Keyes’ words, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan said on Monday that Hamas’ soon-to-be-published policy paper was «a false display and a PR stunt only, whose single purpose is to recruit legitimacy for international action.»
Erdan continued by stating: «In practice, Hamas consistently continues to promote terror attacks and wild incitement calling for the murder of Israelis and continues to refuse to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.»
Erdan cautioned that the world should not view Hamas’ renewed charter as an actual change in the terror organization’s policy.
«The international community should not treat Hamas’ charter as a change in the movement’s policy, which acts every day for the murder of Jews and Israelis indiscriminately, while exploiting its population in Gaza as human shields,» he added.
Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since 2007, said in the document it agreed to a transitional Palestinian state within the borders of 1967, when Israel captured Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a war with Arab states. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.
«Hamas advocates the liberation of all of Palestine but is ready to support the state on 1967 borders without recognizing Israel or ceding any rights,» said Meshaal, in a shift that brings Hamas more into line with the position of Fatah.
Analysts say the revised document could allow Hamas to mend relations with Western countries and pave the way for a reconciliation agreement with the Palestine Liberation Organization, headed by Abbas.
US-allied Arab states including Egypt, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia classify the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization. The 89-year-old Brotherhood held power in Egypt for a year after a popular uprising in 2011.
The Brotherhood denies links with Islamist militants and advocates Islamist political parties winning power through elections, which Saudi Arabia considers a threat to its system of absolute power through inherited rule.
Yasser Okbi contributed to this report.