Palestinian Authority cautiously welcomes softening of Hamas stance on Israel

Palestinian Authority cautiously welcomes softening of Hamas stance on Israel
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal announces a new policy document in Doha. (Reuters)
Updated 03 May 2017
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Palestinian Authority cautiously welcomes softening of Hamas stance on Israel

Palestinian Authority cautiously welcomes softening of Hamas stance on Israel

JEDDAH: “Issuing statements to appease this party or that is not enough,” Nabil Abu Rudeineh, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ spokesman, told Arab News on Tuesday in response to Gaza-based Hamas movement’s apparent shift in position.
Hamas on Monday unveiled what had been billed as a new, seemingly more pragmatic political program aimed at ending the group’s international isolation.
The Palestinian Authority (PA), however, cautiously welcomed Hamas’ new program, saying that it includes several vague points that need to be clarified.
“Hamas needs to clearly accept the legitimate Palestinian Authority’s jurisdiction over Gaza Strip and allow the Palestinian national unity government to exercise its duties in Gaza freely,” Abu Rudeineh said.
He added that the Palestinian problem is not exclusively Palestinian, but rather an Arab and international issue and there are international and Arab summit decisions that have to be taken into consideration.
“Neither Fatah nor Hamas can act in isolation from the Arab consensus. If they (Hamas) are serious about changing their ideology and accepting the relevant UN resolutions, agreements with the PA, then they should immediately hand over Gaza rule to the legitimate national unity government,” he said.
Hamas drove out forces loyal to Abbas in the 2007 takeover of Gaza, a year after defeating Fatah in the Palestinian Parliament elections. Reconciliation efforts have failed thus far.
“So far, we have not seen anything new in what Hamas has introduced in its bill, which we know was issued to relieve some of the Arab and international pressure it has been under. It is an attempt by Hamas to promote itself to the world as a moderate political group. Still, we see it as a positive step and we look forward to more positive steps from them,” said Abu Rudeineh.
“The challenges ahead of us in the battle to establish our own independent state are enormous. There is no room for disputes and conflicts among us. It is time for unity,” he added.
With the new manifesto, Hamas wishes to rebrand itself as an Islamic national liberation movement, rather than a branch of the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by Egypt.
In it, it drops explicit language calling for Israel’s destruction, though it retains the goal of eventually “liberating” all of historic Palestine, which includes what is now Israel.
Hamas has for long clung to its hard-line position, which had led to its isolation.
The group reaffirmed that it will not recognize Israel, renounce violence or recognize previous interim Israeli-Palestinian peace deals — the West’s longstanding conditions for dealing with Hamas.
The five-page program, a result of four years of internal deliberations, was presented at a news conference in Doha, by Khaled Meshaal, the outgoing Hamas leader in exile.
The group said Meshaal’s replacement is to be named later this month, after the completion of secret leadership elections.
The document reflects a “reasonable Hamas, that is serious about dealing with the reality and the regional and international developments, while still representing the cause of its people,” said Meshaal.