It took Hamas four years of intense dialogue among its leaders dispersed across the Middle East to come to an agreement behind the new charter that was presented on Monday, May 1, from a luxury hotel in Doha, but even its release entailed a laborious PR operation.
Naturally, Qatar, a historic base of Hamas politburo and a longstanding financier of its criminal enterprises, was the country designated to host the public gathering for the announcement – an unusual choice given the generally secretive character of the organization. According to a public invitation seen by The Weekly Standard, the event was initially scheduled to take place at the City Centre Rotana Doha hotel but was subsequently moved to Intercontinental Doha – at least until the UK company that owns the Doha franchise as well as dozens of properties in the U.S. came under intense scrutiny for potentially providing material support to an organization labelled as a foreign terrorist entity under U.S. law. Public pressure combined with the risk of opening up the company to serious liabilities induced Intercontinental Hotel to decline Hamas’ request, yet did not discourage U.S.-based Marriott International. In a new iteration of a 2015 precedent held at the Four Seasons Doha, Monday’s Hamas’ gathering took place at the Sheraton Doha, owned by the same firm.
From the Sheraton Doha, outgoing political leader Khaled Meshaal discussed Hamas’ most recent attempt to project a new image as a national liberation movement open to “evolve and renew” in light of the changing historical circumstances. In a strenuous effort to overcome its international isolation while retaining its hardcore supporters, the “Document of General Principles and Policies” announced on Monday preserves the core principles of the organization, born in 1987 as a militant resistance movement determined to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation. Overtime, however, Hamas’ attacks on civilians have left little doubt about the group’s terrorist nature which the cautious semantic choices of the new charter will not amend. While the new document drops the overt call for the destruction of Israel contained in the 1988 charter and marks a clear distinction between Zionism and Hebraism, it does not repudiate violence nor does it rule out military action against Israel. The charter does, however, renounce Hamas’ association with the Muslim Brotherhood, allegedly with the goal of consolidating the recent appeasement with Egypt while disclosing new opportunities to positively engage the Gulf, especially those countries (Saudi Arabia and the UAE in particular) which continue to deem the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organization.
From The National Interest:
“On Monday, Hamas, the Muslim Brotherhood offshoot that rules the Gaza Strip, thrust itself back into the international spotlight when it formally unveiled a new organizational charter. The long-discussed and much-debated document—launched with great fanfare by Hamas politburo chief Khaled Meshal at the upscale Sheraton Hotel in the Qatari capital of Doha—represents a new bid for relevance by the world’s premier Palestinian Islamist movement.
Hamas is in sore need of just such a facelift. In the past several years, because of strategic missteps as well as regional geopolitical changes, the organization has found itself isolated economically and neutered politically.”