Hamas Ditches Language Calling for Israel's Destruction
But still doesn't recognize its right to exist
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 2, 2017 9:51 AM CDT
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A file photo of Hamas security forces.   (AP Photo/Adel Hana, File)

(Newser) – The militant group Hamas on Monday unveiled what had been billed as a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program aimed at ending the group's international isolation. With the new manifesto, Hamas rebrands itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by Egypt. It also drops explicit language calling for Israel's destruction, reports the AP, 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 Egypt which, along with Israel, has been enforcing a crippling border blockade against the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip since the group seized the territory in 2007.

Despite the softening of tone in some areas, Hamas clung to hard-line positions that led to its isolation in the first place. The group reaffirmed that it will not recognize Israel, renounce violence, or recognize previous interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals—the West's long-standing conditions for dealing with Hamas. Israel responded to the overall manifesto skeptically, saying that Hamas was trying to "fool the world," reports Reuters. The new platform for the first time raises the possibility of establishing a transitional Palestinian state within lands captured by Israel in 1967, but the wording suggests Hamas considers this to be an interim step, not a way of ending the conflict.

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