Hamas will no longer call for the destruction of Israel, stop associating with Muslim Brotherhood


Palestinian Hamas militants take part in a rally marking Palestinian Prisoners' Day, in Gaza City April 17, 2016. REUTERS/Suhaib Salem/Files
Hamas militants take part in a rally marking Palestinian
Prisoners’ Day, in Gaza City


The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas will remove a call for
Israel’s destruction and drop its association with the Muslim
Brotherhood in a new policy document to be issued on Monday, Gulf
Arab sources said.

Hamas’s move appears aimed at improving relations with Gulf Arab
states and Egypt, which label the Brotherhood as a terrorist
organization, as well as with Western countries, many of which
classify Hamas as a terrorist group over its hostility to Israel.

The sources said Hamas, which has controlled the Gaza Strip since
2007, will say in the document that it agrees to a transitional
Palestinian state along the borders from 1967, when Israel
captured Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem in a war with
Arab states. Israel withdrew from Gaza in 2005.

A future state encompassing Gaza, the West Bank and East
Jerusalem along 1967 borders is the goal of Hamas’ main political
rival, the Fatah movement led by Palestinian President Mahmoud
Abbas. His Palestinian Authority has engaged in peace talks with
Israel on that basis, although the last, U.S.-mediated round
collapsed three years ago.

The revised Hamas political document, to be announced later on
Monday, will still reject Israel’s right to exist and back “armed
struggle” against it, the Gulf Arab sources told Reuters.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2007 and has
carried out hundreds of armed attacks in Israel and in
Israeli-occupied territories since it was founded three decades

It remains unclear whether the document replaces or changes in
any way Hamas’s 1988 charter, which calls for Israel’s
destruction and is the Islamist group’s covenant.

gazaGoogle Maps/Amanda Macias/Business

A Hamas spokesman in Qatar declined to comment. There was no
immediate comment from Egypt and Gulf Arab states.

Arab sources said the Hamas document was being released ahead of
a planned visit by Abbas to Washington on May 3 and as Donald
Trump administration prepares to make a renewed push for
Israeli-Palestinian peace.

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
Organisation, now also headed by Abbas.

U.S.-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.

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