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Experts: New Hamas Policy Document Similar to Old Charter

A new document outlining the principles of the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas “is unlikely to represent any profound change in Hamas’s true position toward Israel,” The New York Times reported Monday, citing unnamed experts.

The Times noted that in addition to recently selecting “hardliner” Yahya Sinwar to head the group in Gaza, Hamas “has still in no way recognized Israel or renounced violence.”

While the document speaks of accepting a provisional Palestinian state based on the 1949 armistice lines, it plainly rejects “any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea,” CNN reported.

It also calls for “resistance to occupation, by all means and methods,” describing it as “a legitimate right guaranteed by divine laws, customs and international laws.”

“Hamas is attempting to fool the world but it will not succeed,” David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told Reuters. “They dig terror tunnels and have launched thousands upon thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians. This is the real Hamas.”

Matthew Levitt and Maxine Rich of the Washington Institute for Near East Policy described the document as an attempt by Hamas “at widening its international appeal at a time when the group faces multiple challenges.”

While the paper “distances Hamas from the Muslim Brotherhood, and may include some acknowledgment of the 1967 armistice lines for the Six Day War as the basis for a deal with Israel,” it “still includes less friendly sections, including a rededication to armed resistance to liberate all of Palestine, ‘from the Jordan River eastward to the Mediterranean Sea in the west,'” Levitt and Rich noted.

“Its recent militant activity speaks volumes about the group’s true intentions,” they observed.

Since its 2014 war with Israel, Hamas has been working “to rebuild its wartime infrastructure, including drilling tunnels within the Gaza Strip and into both Egypt and Israel,” Levitt and Rich pointed out. Hamas has also been holding military drills and upgrading its rocket arsenal.

“The international community should judge Hamas not by any moderation in the group’s rhetoric but by its actions on the ground. So long as the latter remain militant and extreme, the relative moderation of the former means not much at all,” Levitt and Rich concluded.

Grant Rumley, a research fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, similarly dismissed the new document as “a cynical ploy to secure regional funding and swipe at Fatah’s support base.” Rumley told The Atlantic that the omission of any mention of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas’ parent organization, in the document is significant.

“Hamas released this now out of realization that [Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-]Sisi is here to stay and that his war on the [Muslim] Brothers has hit them hard—not only at Rafah, but in the tunnels and in access to Egypt and the ability to get out of the Gaza Strip,” he explained. “It’s really hamstrung the organization.”

Blogger “Elder of Ziyon” pointed out that the Hamas has been explicit in calling the new document a “political document,” not a new charter. He observed that the group has not renounced its 1988 charter, which states explicitly that Hamas is at war with Jews and openly acknowledges its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 2011, “Elder of Ziyon” critiqued a report in The New York Times that Khaled Meshaal, the exiled head of Hamas’ political bureau, had accepted a two-state solution and Israel’s right to exist. As “Elder of Ziyon” pointed out, Meshaal said:

“The whole world knows what Hamas thinks and what our principles are. But we are talking now about a common national agenda. The world should deal with what we are working toward now, the national political program.

“[This is] a Palestinian state in the 1967 lines with Jerusalem as its capital, without any settlements or settlers, not an inch of land swaps and respecting the right of return [of millions of Palestinian Arab “refugees” to Israel itself.]” …

“When Israel made agreements with Egypt and Jordan, no one conditioned it on how Israel should think. The Arabs and the West didn’t ask Israel what it was thinking deep inside. All Palestinians know that 60 years ago they were living on historic Palestine from the river to the sea. It is no secret.”

Nothing in Meshaal’s words “can be remotely construed even in English as implying that he would accept Israel’s right to exist, the very definition of a two-state solution,” “Elder of Ziyon” observed.

Dore Gold, formerly the director-general of Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, wrote in 2014 that whenever there appears to be a development in Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, “there is an effort undertaken to repackage Hamas as a moderate organization.” Despite this, many “Hamas activities and statements point in the exact opposite direction of those analyses that try to soften the image of Hamas,” he noted.

[Photo: afpbr / YouTube ]