Israel official: 870 Palestinians remain on hunger strike

Trump to meet Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas in their first face-to-face talks. Credit PTI

Hamas is to unveil a new version of its controversial founding charter, which called for the destruction of Israel, in a bid to ease its worldwide isolation, party officials said.

The Islamist Hamas movement seized power in Gaza in 2007 from the Ramallah-based Fatah organisation of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.

One Hamas leader, Ahmed Yusef, has told AFP the updated charter was "more moderate, more measured and would help protect us against accusations of racism, anti-Semitism and breaches of global law". The new program makes no reference to the Brotherhood.

About 1,500 Palestinian political prisoners have refused food since April 17, Palestinian Prisoners' Day, they are calling for an end to ongoing collective punishment, administrative detention, continued denial of fair trial, and illegal transfer and deportation of detainees. In a sign of business as usual, Hamas has slammed Abbas' efforts to relaunch USA -led talks with Israel on setting up a Palestinian state as an attempt to liquidate the Palestinian cause.

Mohammad Abu Saada, a professor at Gaza's al-Azhar Univerity, described the new document as a bid to "accommodate Egyptian conditions and calm Egyptian fears" regarding Hamas connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, which Egypt has classified as a "terror" group since democratically elected president Mohammad Morsi was ousted in a 2013 military coup.

The strip was heavily battered in a July-August 2014 war between #Israel and Hamas that killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 people on the Israeli side. However, the wording suggests Hamas considers this to be an interim step, not a way of ending the conflict.

The new document's publication comes ahead of the Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas's meeting with US President Donald Trump at the White House on Wednesday.

Kevin Barrett predicted that the Palestinian resistance and public pressure will eventually force Israel to back off and abandon its harsh tactics against Palestinians. Hamas has said over the past decade that it was open to recognizing the later 1967 borders.

Over the years, Hamas has carried out shooting, bombing and rocket attacks in Israel. This has sparked three cross-border wars between Hamas and Israel.

While the founding charter was filled with anti-Jewish references, the new document stresses that Hamas bears no enmity toward Jews.

The news conference by Khaled Mashaal, the Hamas leader in exile, was to begin at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) Monday at a five-star hotel.

Hamas is also releasing its new document as tensions with the PA are at a high over a power shortage.

"During summer and winter peaks, the scarce electricity supply is increasingly rationed to four hours during daytime", said a report, quoting West Bank and Gaza director Marina Wes.

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