June 23, 2017

Dozens of Palestinians injured in West Bank clashes

03 May 2017, 12:27 | Clarence Schmidt

Trump to meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in their first face-to-face talks. Credit PTI

Trump to meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in their first face-to-face talks. Credit PTI

Hamas on Monday unveiled a new policy document easing its stance on Israel after having called for years for the country's destruction, as the Palestinian movement seeks to improve its worldwide standing.

The group has always been under pressure to update its 1988 founding charter, which calls for the destruction of the state of Israel and advocates violence to achieve its goal of restoring a Palestinian state.

The policy document, which was presented by Hamas' exiled political leader Khaled Meshaal in Doha, also drops its association with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Officials in Ramallah have officially informed the IDF Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) that it will no longer pay for electricity used by residents of Gaza.

While in the 1988 charter Hamas affirmed its ties to the Muslim Brotherhood by mentioning it six times, the new document asserted Hamas strict Palestinian credentials as a "liberation movement" that uses Islam as its main ideological component.

Barghouti, a member of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas's Fatah party, is popular among Palestinians, with polls suggesting he could win the Palestinian presidency.

The Islamic militant Hamas on Monday unveiled what had been billed as a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program aimed at ending the group's global isolation.

"Gaza is a barrel of gunpowder that can explode at any minute in the face of Abbas and the Israeli occupation", Khalil al-Hayyah, deputy chairman of the Hamas movement, said in an email.

It was also to be broadcast live in the Gaza Strip, the Palestinian enclave run by Hamas. However, the wording suggests Hamas considers this to be an interim step, not a way of ending the conflict.

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The decision falls within a series of measures approved by President Mahmoud Abbas in an attempt to force Hamas to hand over authority in Gaza to the consensus government. Hamas has said over the past decade that it was open to recognizing the later 1967 borders.

He said the new document was "a tool for the future but it does not mean we're changing our principles".

Abbas's first meeting with Trump in Washington takes place on Wednesday.

Hamas official Ismail Radwan condemned the move by Abbas.

Hamas has traditionally been shut out of the peace process and is designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Britain and the European Union.

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.

The new Hamas document essentially brings the two sides closer to the same negotiating objective.

Laub reported from Ramallah, West Bank.

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