Hamas to Reveal new Movement's charter

The Palestinian Islamist movement Hamas unveiled Monday a new policy document easing its stance on Israel after having long called for its destruction, as it seeks to improve its global standing.

The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas will drop its long-standing call for Israel's destruction as well as its association with the Muslim Brotherhood in a new policy document to be issued on Monday, Gulf Arab sources said.

Hamas leaders have long spoken of the more limited aim of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip without explicitly setting this out in its charter.

The press conference was also broadcast live in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave controlled by Hamas, and the document was posted on the movement's website.

Mohammed Shtayyeh, a senior member of the Fatah Central Committee which runs the Palestinian Authority, and an adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, accused Hamas of being decades behind in its thinking.

But despite Hamas' efforts to depict the unveiling of the new charter as an event of great importance, the organization recognizes that Gaza residents' main concern right now is the punitive measures the PA has taken against Hamas, which have greatly worsened Gaza's humanitarian crisis.

"There is a real opportunity to make peace, and the worldwide community should reinforce this opportunity and not miss it, because the region is in a state of boiling, and the occupation cannot continue in any way", Abu Rudeineh said as quoted by the WAFA news agency.

The document, which contains 11 chapters with 41 articles, will also effectively declare Hamas' independence from its parent movement, the Muslim Brotherhood. The group has said Mashaal's replacement is to be named later this month, after the completion of secret leadership elections.

"Hamas affirms that the Oslo Accords and their addenda contravene the governing rules of global law in that they generate commitments that violate the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people".

Borders: There will be keen interest in whether Hamas will make official its stance on which borders it recognizes in any possible peace agreement. It does not formally replace the group's fiery 1987 founding charter.

One Hamas leader, Ahmed Yusef, earlier told AFP the updated charter was "more moderate, more measured and would help protect us against accusations of racism, anti-Semitism and breaches of global law".

Over the years, Hamas has carried out shooting, bombing and rocket attacks in Israel. It says its fight is with those who occupy Palestinian lands.

Meshaal is expected to step down as leader of Hamas after serving the maximum two terms.

The Mashaal announcement was initially scheduled for 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) Monday, but was delayed after a Doha hotel withdrew consent at the last minute to host the Hamas news conference. Two possible contenders for the No. 1 spot are Moussa Abu Marzouk, a former Hamas leader, and Ismail Haniyeh, a former top Hamas official in Gaza.

The bitter split between Fatah and Hamas has taken a new turn in recent days.

  • Leroy Wright