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Analysis: New Hamas policy document enables them to sway public opinion and invade West Bank

Rachel Avraham explains how Hamas’ new policy document that is going to be released on May 1 will assist Hamas in presenting themselves as more moderate to the West so that they can ease their international isolation without actually reforming themselves. This will in turn enable them to take over the West Bank.
Photo Credit: Reuters/Channel 2 News

The Middle East Monitor has reported that Hamas is going to publish a new policy document on May 1 that will establish the terror groups’ relationship with the rest of the world. In the past, JerusalemOnline reported that Hamas is linked with both ISIS and Iran. There have also been a number of reports surfacing about Hamas assisting ISIS in the Sinai. But now, it appears that the murderous terror group has learned that such a strategy has not assisted them. Instead, they intend to project a more moderate image of themselves so that they can ease their international isolation without actually reforming themselves.  

Maan Palestinian News Agency has leaked parts of the new policy document.  According to the parts that they leaked, Hamas will explicitly accept a Palestinian state along the 1949 Armistice Lines with Jerusalem as its capital city accompanied by a Palestinian right of return, just as Fatah demands. But at the same time, the policy document rejects “any alternative to the complete liberation of Palestine from the river to the sea.” It also maintains Hamas’ right to “armed resistance.” However, Hamas claimed that they will begin to differentiate between Jews as People of the Book and Zionists, just as the Iranian regime does. According to the new policy, Hamas has a conflict with Zionists but not the Jewish people.

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The new leaked policy document applauds people in the West who support the Palestinian cause.  Additionally, the new Hamas policy document has a more positive attitude towards Christians and recognizes Palestinian Christians as a major part of their society. The document also asserted that Hamas has no “organizational and administrative connections” with Islamic movements like ISIS and only maintains relations with them in order to recruit support for the Palestinian cause. Hamas terrorist Ahmad Yossef even criticized ISIS: “They harm the image of Islam and Muslims and the status of the Palestinian cause.” The new policy document aimed at ending Hamas’ isolation is also expected to affect the terror group’s relationship with Iran and Egypt.

According to Iranian dissident Kaveh Taheri, the purpose of this new policy document is to have Hamas provide a duel policy aimed at the West and its allies: “The Hamas leaders have learned from the mullahs in this way. The new policy document is as unclear as the Iran deal was but it seems that Hamas is trying to redefine itself via the document. Al Monitor was told by a Hamas Shura Council member based abroad that the document employs toned down language designed to break the movement out of its international isolation. Based on this, the Hamas leaders should take away from the other terror groups or the suppressive regimes.” Taheri believes that Hamas-Iranian relations are about to improve and he claimed that Iran has increased its funding for the terror group recently.

However, prominent Middle East expert Dr. Mordechai Kedar disagrees with Taheri about Iran. He claimed that so long as Hamas does not express support for Syrian President Bashar Al Assad, Iran won’t support Hamas: “Maybe you can find an official visit but this is only in the margins. This cannot change profoundly the relations, which are very tense. Any picture of an Iranian official with a Hamas official comes at the expense of Saudi relations to Hamas. Any relations with Iran will cause them to have Saudi criticism or more. Thus, I don’t see Hamas having deep relations with Iran or Hezbollah.”

According to Kedar, Hamas’ new policy document is connected to Iranian-Egyptian relations. He claimed that both Iran and Sisi want to keep Assad in power at any cost, thus creating a common issue where the two can build up a relationship: “In the Egyptian view, Sisi and Assad are fighting the same enemy, the radical Sunni Islamic organizations. Sisi sees himself in the same ditch with Assad. This makes a common denominator between Egypt and Iran. This is the background for what is happening between Egypt and Iran.” Kedar claimed that Sisi’s position on Assad is harming Egypt’s relationship with Saudi Arabia, who doesn’t want Egypt to have a relationship with Iran. Meanwhile, he noted that Trump is trying to create a new alliance in the Middle East based upon Israel, Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia and perhaps the Palestinians as well: “In order to form this coalition, he has to reduce tensions between Israel and the Palestinians; Egypt and Saudi Arabia. This is background for what is written and said within the region for the past couple of months and maybe for the next couple of months as well.”

Kedar stressed that Hamas has a strategic interest to rebuild the relationship with Egypt for they want the Rafah Crossing to be re-opened and for Gazans to be able to travel abroad via Egypt. For this reason, Kedar claimed that Hamas seeks to distance themselves from the allegation that they are supporting ISIS and the Muslim Brotherhood in the Sinai. He claimed that is what stands behind this recent Hamas policy document: “Hamas definitely wants to distance themselves from ISIS. They hold themselves as Palestinian freedom fighters. They don’t need ISIS. They don’t need to be equated and associated with ISIS. They know that it will work against them. The Europeans tried to create ways to talk to Hamas. Hamas doesn’t want to sabotage that.”

Iranian dissident Mohsen Behzad Karimi told JerusalemOnline that Hamas has a history of having on and off relations with various regional players and has switched sides many times since 1988. He claimed that the Iranians are aware of this fact and therefore, they rely more upon the Palestinian Islamic Jihad than Hamas: “I see the new Hamas agenda as nothing but a strategic move to seize political power in the West Bank in an organized and carefully designed move. I don’t see any fundamental changes in the leaked draft of the new agenda. Sure, there is a new icing on the cake such as differentiating between the Jewish people and Zionists and recognising the 1967 agreement, which I doubt is going to be respected by Hamas in practice because it is in conjunction with what generally it refers to in the very same document as occupiers. Whoever is behind the new agenda and who is the current puppet master of Hamas is not known. It might look like they have distanced themselves from Iran, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood.”

“Is the opening quote by Hassan Al-Banna, the Muslim Brotherhood founder, going to keep its place at the beginning of the new charter,” Karimi asked rhetorically. “I am sure it is the cornerstone of Hamas ideology and if all the rumours and changes, which was indicated in the leaked version, going to appear in the new agenda and if the rhetoric changes, I still am not going to trust their radical reform and I only see it as a massive political mobilization to achieve hegemony in the West Bank as well.”



JOL Blogger | Rachel Avraham

Rachel Avraham has an MA in Middle Eastern Studies from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev.  She received her BA in Government and Politics with minors in Jewish Studies and Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Maryland at College Park. She worked as a content manager and writer for United with Israel and had a blog in the Jewish Press. She has over 4 years of experience working for Zionist non-profits.

Avraham specialty is counter-terrorism, women's rights, minority rights, Middle Eastern affairs and international relations.  

She is the author of Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab Media, a ground-breaking book on terrorism in the Middle East that was endorsed by former Israel Consul General to Miami, former Israel Consul General to Chicago and former Deputy Mayor of Netanya Yitzchak Ben Gad. Click here to purchase the book


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