New Hamas programme softens language, but some goals remain

PTI Feeds
New Hamas programme softens language, but some goals remain

Gaza City, May 1 (AP) The Islamic militant Hamas today unveiled a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program that the group hopes will help it end years of international isolation.

With the new manifesto, Hamas rebrands itself as an Islamic national movement, rather than as a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood which has been outlawed by Egypt.

It also drops explicit language calling for Israel’s destruction, though it retains the goal of eventually “liberating” all of historic Palestine, which includes what is now Israel.

It’s not clear if the changes will be enough to improve relations with Israel and Egypt, which have been enforcing a crippling border blockade against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip since the group seized the territory in 2007.

Hamas has also been shunned by the West, which has set recognition of Israel and renunciation of violence as a condition for ties.

The five-page program, a result of four years of internal deliberations, was presented at a news conference in Doha, Qatar, by Khaled Mashaal, the outgoing Hamas leader in exile.

The group has said Mashaal’s replacement is to be named later this month, after the completion of secret leadership elections.

“We wanted to present a document that truly reflects Hamas’ ideology and consensus and to present it to our supporters … and the international community,” Mashaal said.

A copy of the program was distributed to journalists in Gaza who followed the news conference by video link.

The new platform was presented at a time of escalating tensions between Hamas and its main political rival, the Fatah movement of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Hamas drove out forces loyal to Abbas in its 2007 takeover of Gaza, a year after defeating Fatah in Palestinian parliament elections. Reconciliation efforts have failed.

In recent weeks, Abbas has threatened to exert financial pressure, including cutting wage payments and aid to Gaza, as a way of forcing Hamas to cede ground. Leaders of the group have vowed they will not budge. (AP)

This is published unedited from the PTI feed.