A senior Hamas official said on Wednesday that the terror group, which rules the Gaza Strip, is rewriting its charter in a way that will remove its anti-Semitic language, but also made plain the group’s ongoing rejection of the Jews’ right to statehood in Israel.
The charter, written in 1988, contains a cocktail of Nazi, communist and Islamist anti-Semitic tropes and conspiracy theories, including that Jews were behind the French and Russian revolutions and the two world wars, that they control the media and the UN, that they infiltrated the Freemasons and that they funded colonialism with their wealth.
“We will have a clear political document, which is supposed to be in the near future, clarifying all those points,” the official, Osama Hamdan, told Al-Jazeera on Wednesday.
“You will find in this document clear words that we [sic] against the Zionists, against the occupation of our lands and we will resist the occupiers, whoever they were. And we are not against anyone regarding to this religion or to his race,” he said.
Asked whether Hamas — which avowedly seeks the destruction of Israel and has fought three major rounds of conflict against it since seizing Gaza in 2007, fired thousands of rockets indiscriminately into it, tunneled under the border to carry out terror attacks and orchestrated suicide bombings that have killed hundreds of Israelis — would now accept a Palestinian state alongside Israel, rather than in place of it, Hamdan indicated that it would not.
Asked how long it would take for the new charter to be published, Hamdan didn’t give a date, saying, “very soon.”
While Hamdan sought to give the impression that Hamas is not anti-Semitic (and he is not the first leader in the group to do so), Hamas’s official media is rife with anti-Semitic messages, often wrapped in Islamist rhetoric.
In a live broadcast on Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV earlier this month, Hamas MP Marwan Abu Ras accused Jews of recruiting prostitutes into the army “in order to lure Arabs into their traps,” and added that Jewish leaders send “AIDS-infected girls to fornicate with Muslim youths.”
“My brothers, know that people, stones, and trees all hate [the Jews]. Everyone on Earth hates this filthy nation, a nation extrinsic to Mankind. This fact was elucidated by the Quran and the Sunna,” Abu Ras said.
Speaking about US President Donald Trump in November, senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar, wondered in an interview with Al-Jazeera if the then Republican candidate was Jewish because he is wealthy.
“I do not rule out the possibility that he is a Jew. He loves the Jewish religion, and the most important thing in the Jewish religion is Jewish money,” al-Zahar said of Trump.
In the Al-Jazeera interview, Hamdan also addressed Hamas’s ostensible willingness for political compromise.
“We want to build a Palestinian state on the lines of the 4th of June ’67, including Jerusalem, with the ‘right of return’ for Palestinians,” he said, referring to the demand that all Palestinian refugees from the 1948 war and their descendants be allowed to live in Israel.
The UN today says there are five million Palestinian refugees, though there were only a total of 750,000 after the 1948 war, because it extends the definition of refugee to subsequent generations of Palestinians. Only Palestinian refugees are defined in this way by the world body.
Israeli governments across the political spectrum have argued that the demand for a massive influx of Palestinians to Israel would, and is indeed intended to, end the Jewish state, and is therefore in direct contradiction with the right of Jews to self-determination.
When pressed if he would accept the existence of the Israel through a two-state solution, Hamdan said that “would be inaccurate.”
“You can call [our proposal] whatever you want, but this is what we accept. Nothing more than this, nothing less than this,” he added.
While Hamas leaders in the past have at times expressed to English-language news outlets they would accept a state along the pre-1967 lines, the group’s official spokespeople and media continue on a near-daily basis to promise to take back the entire land of historic Palestine, including the entire state of Israel.
On Wednesday, senior Hamas spokesperson Sami Abu Zurhi wrote on Twitter: “Hamas’s goal remains to liberate every inch of Palestine, and restore its Islamic, Arab and humanistic identity.”
During his interview with Al-Jazeera, Hamdan also commented on Trump’s campaign pledge to move the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
“[Trump] has to make a choice whether he wants to create peace in the region or he wants to add more oil on the fire,” he said.
“Palestinians will not accept to abandon Jerusalem, they will not accept to abandon their rights,” he added.
When asked whether or not the embassy moving to Jerusalem would lead to renewed violence, Hamdan said: “I don’t accept the idea of having violence from the Palestinian side.”
However, he added, “Now if there were changes or the United States administration tries to make a change in the status of Jerusalem, of course that will mean an action from the Palestinian side and no one can control that.”
During the interview, the Hamas leader also defended the use of suicide attacks against Israeli civilians.
“What’s the problem in that: the bombs or the suicide actions?” he asked, while making a comparison to Israeli military attacks hitting Palestinian civilian areas.
“As Palestinians we don’t have… tanks…so we use what we have,” he added.
Hamas officials recently rejected the ruling of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most senior cleric forbidding suicide attacks.