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Robert Cusack

The Hamas charter: Israel and Fatah respond

The new charter was unveiled by Hamas' leader, Khalid Meshaal, in Doha yesterday [TNA]

Date of publication: 2 May, 2017

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Hamas unveiled its new charter in Doha on Monday, but how did its enemies Fatah and Israel respond?

"Hamas is attempting to fool the world but it will not succeed," said David Keyes, a spokesperson for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday.

His comments come as Hamas launched their new policy document to a mixed reaction in the Salwa Hall of the Sheraton Hotel in Doha on Monday.

The new document has made some fundamental changes to the movement's core stances on Zionism, the Muslim Brotherhood and Palestine's borders – but for some, it was too little, too late.

"Hamas is debating things [the PLO] did 43 years ago," said Mohammed Shtayyeh, a senior member in the Fatah Central Committee.

Fatah has been routinely condemned in the past for its overt lack of criticism towards Palestine's President, Mahmoud Abbas – one of Hamas' biggest rivals.

"So what are they going to come up with? They are going to come up with a two state solution. Hamas will try to present some sort of credentials to the international community to say 'now we are partners'."

Hamas is not locked in a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish, but wages a struggle against the Zionist occupiers as aggressors

Revisions made to the new charter were highly important for the very survival of Hamas – due to its isolation, both geographically and ideologically, in a region where the Muslim Brotherhood is being persecuted on all sides.

The new charter has been portrayed as an important first step to correct some antiquated and offensive language, but for many of Hamas' historical enemies – Israel, the UAE and the United States – words will always be seen as empty gestures.

One of the biggest changes in the new policy document is an important change in the language surrounding Hamas' enemy. The previous charter referred to the Jews and used offensive language – referencing offensive anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories.

The new document reads by comparison: "Hamas is not locked in a struggle against the Jews because they are Jewish, but wages a struggle against the Zionist occupiers as aggressors. The leaders of the occupation are using Judaism and Jewish slogans in this conflict."

Israel rejected the notion that Hamas has turned a corner outright however, saying that the core nature of the organisation had stayed the same.

"When you look at what they tell their own people on Hamas' TV stations, in their mosques, in their schools, they are calling on a daily basis to destroy Israel," said David Keyes.

Israel's interior security minister Gilad Erdan, told reporters before the document was unveiled on Monday that it was "only a false display and PR stunt".

"In practice, Hamas consistently continues to promote terror attacks, calling for the murder of Israelis – and continues to refuse to acknowledge Israel's right to exist."

The previous Hamas charter was issued in 1988 and made reference to God on 73 occasions. The next most commonly used terms were "Islamic" – used 64 times, "Jihad" – 36 times – while the word "Palestine" appeared only 27 times.

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