The new Hamas charter and Palestinian consensus

From Middle East Monitor: Hamas has finally revealed its new charter. The document was launched by the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, at a press conference in Doha, Qatar on 1 May. 

The charter’s formal title is, “A Document of General Principles and Policies”

Hamas is one of two main wings of Palestine’s national movement, the other being Fatah (or the Palestinian National Liberation Movement), which is led by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.

The new document comes after several months of press reports that the movement was close to replacing its original 1988 charter, and after a reported two years of internal deliberations and debates within the movement. However, the roots of the new document actually go back much further. It represents a coalescence of the movement’s political thought over the past decade or more. The new charter formalises several evolving aspects of Hamas’s political thought which have been apparent in its public pronouncements for a long time.

Media reports about the new charter have focused on two aspects: Hamas’s accommodation of the so-called “two-state solution”, and the movement’s attitude towards the issue of Judaism versus Zionism. The document envisions a conceptual framework around Israel of colonialism and occupation, rather than a religious conflict in its essence. This is indeed an improvement on the original Hamas charter, which was written by one man in the late 1980s when the movement was still emerging.

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