Executive Intelligence Review
Subscribe to EIR


Hamas Reveals Dramatic Change in Stance Toward Israel

May 2, 2017 (EIRNS)—The Palestinian Islamic movement Hamas has removed from its charter the pledge to destroy Israel, and now accepts a Palestinian state along with Israel, based on the 1967 borders. Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal made the official announcement on Monday at a press conference in Qatar. The charter also now accepts the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) as the "national framework" for Palestinians.

"The document is available to anyone who wants to know about Hamas and its policies," Mashaal said. "The document reflects the consensus and reconciles Islamic and international principles."

Hamas described the long-awaited document as a set of "general principles and policies" rather than a replacement for its founding charter, which critics have often cited as evidence the group would not be committed to any peace deal with Israel.

Ahmad Yusuf, a senior Hamas leader, said the new document signalled "an important shift in the way Hamas is thinking" that will give it more flexibility internationally.

"There is a lot considered new when compared to the charter of 1988 in the way we talk about Jews. The problem is not with the Jewish people or their religion; the problem is with the Israeli project and occupation,"

he told Anadolu Agency. "This is a very important declaration from Hamas." He said that it also underlines, that opposition to Israel does not need to be through armed means, and that the document is more suited to Hamas’s current position, as the ruling faction in the blockaded Gaza Strip.

A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister David Keyes dismissed the document, accusing Hamas of unsuccessfully "attempting to fool the world" while continuing to use violence against Israel.

This change comes in the context of the new U.S. Presidency of Donald Trump, whose special envoy, Jason Greenblatt, has already toured the region in an effort to get the Israeli-Palestinian talks started again. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to meet President Donald Trump in the near future.

One thing required for talks is to establish Palestinian unity between the Palestine Liberation Organization-controlled West Bank and Hamas-controlled Gaza. In this context, it is noted that Mashaal is to step down as Hamas leader later this month. Among those contending for leadership are Moussa Abu Marzouk, who is now based in Egypt, and Ismail Haniyeh, a former top Hamas official in Gaza.

Already there are fears in Israel that Trump might not be the usual American presidential pushover when it comes to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. A recent commentary in Ynetnews by Israeli journalist Alex Fishman, bearing the revealing title, "Israeli Officials Are Missing Obama Earlier than Expected," makes this point. Fishman writes that former President Barack Obama was the best U.S. president for Israel. While he may have expressed his dislike for Israeli expansion of its settlements in the West Bank, Obama never pressured Israel and, in fact, increased military aid to an unprecedented level. Fishman writes that Israelis have real concern that this might change with Trump, whose security team sees the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as standing in the way of overall Middle East settlement.