Here are the opening sentences in a May 1st Financial Times article written by their Jerusalem correspondent, John Reed.

Hamas, the militant Islamist group, on Monday dropped a call for Israel’s destruction and endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state inside 1967 borders, in a rhetorical shift that analysts said reflected the group’s political ambitions and changing priorities in a new Middle East. A policy paper released in Doha by Khaled Meshaal, Hamas’s political leader, described the creation of an interim Palestinian state in the 1967 lines — the cornerstone of the two-decade-old peace process supported by Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority — as “a formula for national consensus”

The claim by Reed that Hamas no longer calls for Israel’s destruction inspired the accompanying headline.

However, there are multiple reasons why the Financial Times claim is untrue.  

First, the new policy paper does not replace or in any way supersede the group’s founding charter – the 1988 document which explicitly calls for Israel’s complete destruction and the murder of Jews.  Moreover, even if you take the new Hamas policy paper at face value, the paragraph purporting to indicate the group’s implicit acceptance of Israel’s existence includes additional text demonstrating that they support a Palestinian state within ’67 lines only as an interim step to Israel’s ultimate destruction.

Here’s the text in question, in section 20 of the Hamas document.

Further, in sections 23 and 25 of the document, “jihad” and “armed resistance” for “the liberation of Palestine” is characterised as a Palestinian “right, a duty and an honour”.

When you look past the verbal acrobatics – within a document designed purely to improve their public image – you can’t escape the fact that when you support “armed resistance” whilst rejecting “any alternative to the…complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea” you are, by definition, calling for the complete destruction of the Jewish state. 

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