The Islamist terrorist group Hamas is drafting a new platform that will endorse a Palestinian state based on the 1949 armistice lines in an effort “to present a more pragmatic and cooperative face to the world,” The New York Times reported Thursday.
The group will also re-frame its enemies — defined in its 1988 charter as “Israel, Judaism and Jews” — as “occupiers.”
Though the new language appears to be more moderate, the Times noted, the terrorist group “would not recognize Israel, however, nor would it give up future claims to all of what Hamas considers Palestinian lands.”
The new charter will also omit any references to Hamas’ ties to its parent organization, the Muslim Brotherhood, which is under increasing pressure by the government of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The changes being considered are “not yet final and has not yet been approved by Hamas’s governing bodies,” the Times added.
“Hamas officials and other analysts said the document seemed intended to alleviate the group’s international isolation,” the Times reported, but gave no indication that Hamas would operate any differently than it does now.
“The  covenant was criticized because its language was against Jews and international law,” Ahmad Yousif, a former Hamas spokesman, told the Times. “Now we have a document that says Jews are not our enemy.”
Kobi Michael, the former head of the Palestinian desk at Israel’s Ministry for Strategic Affairs, cautioned that Hamas is “trying to use the sort of language that will be more accepted by the international community.” However, he noted that the group “will not change their methods — the use of terror and the use of violence against Israeli citizens.”
According to the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper, the changes were proposed by Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal and his deputy Ismail Haniyeh. However, Haniyeh was replaced last month by Yahya Sinwar, who was described by Neri Zilber, an adjunct fellow of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, as “an extreme hardliner even for Hamas.”
Hamas confirmed early last month that it had rejected an Israel’s offer to grant significant economic aid to the Gaza Strip, which was contingent on the terrorist group releasing three Israeli hostages and the bodies of two soldiers. Less than two weeks later, Hamas rejected an offer by Israel’s defense minister to create jobs and build infrastructure in Gaza in exchange for demilitarization.
Hamas’ foreign minister told NPR in May 2011 that the terror group accepted “the state and ’67 borders. This was mentioned many times and we repeated many times.” In December 2012, Meshaal vowed to never recognize Israel. “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concession on an inch of the land,” he told thousands of supporters at a Gaza rally.
Meshaal’s comments came weeks after Hamas fired hundreds of rockets against Israeli towns, prompting Israel to launch Operation Pillar of Defense to root out terrorist infrastructure in Gaza.
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