The Islamic militant group Hamas is seeking to end the organization’s international isolation through the adoption of a new political “rebranding” program unveiled Monday, despite the group’s continued refusal to recognize Israel as a state.
In the new program, Hamas maintains many of the hardline positions that contributed to the isolation it intends to address—the group will not recognize Israel, renounce violence or abide by previous interim Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements which are the West’s conditions for negotiating with Hamas.
The group, designated as a terrorist organization by the U.S. and other Western governments, also reiterated its commitment to ultimately “liberate” all of historic Palestine, including territories that are currently parts of Israel.
According to U.S. and Israeli officials, the new program does not offer many changes in Hamas’ philosophies.
“Hamas is attempting to fool the world but it will not succeed,” said David Keyes, spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. “Daily, Hamas leaders call for genocide of all Jews and the destruction of Israel.”
The Wall Street Journal reported that “[t]he announcement comes just as President Donald Trump is scheduled to hold talks with Mahmoud Abbas, president of the rival Palestinian Authority that controls the West Bank, in an effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks.”
Hamas deliberated internally for four years while creating the five-page program that was unveiled at a news conference in Doha, Qatar, by Khaled Mashaal, the outgoing Hamas leader in exile.
Mashaal said that the program reflects a “reasonable Hamas that is serious about dealing with the reality and the regional and international surroundings, while still representing the cause of its people.”
The new policy is also viewed as an attempt to sever any connection to the Muslim Brotherhood from which many claim Hamas has evolved.
Drafted in 1988, a year following its founding, Hamas’ original charter called for the destruction of Israel and the Palestinian takeover of all Israeli territory.
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