Hamas wants an extremist makeover. Khaled Meshal, who just won another four-year term as Hamas’ head terrorist, gave his first interview to an American media outlet in a year, and tells the New York Times that Hamas has changed. Not enough to actually change, of course, but just trust them when they say they’re no longer annihilationist:
The leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas said Monday that its fighters had stopped firing rockets at Israel for now. He also reached out in a limited way to the Obama administration and others in the West, saying the movement was seeking a state only in the areas Israel won in 1967.
“I promise the American administration and the international community that we will be part of the solution, period,” the leader, Khaled Meshal, said during a five-hour interview with The New York Times spread over two days in his home office here in the Syrian capital.
Speaking in Arabic in a house heavily guarded by Syrian and Palestinian security agents, Mr. Meshal, 53, gave off an air of serene self-confidence, having been re-elected a fourth time to a four-year term as the leader of the Hamas political bureau, the top position in the movement. His conciliation went only so far, however. He repeated that he would not recognize Israel, saying to fellow Arab leaders, “There is only one enemy in the region, and that is Israel.”
But he urged outsiders to ignore the Hamas charter, which calls for the obliteration of Israel through jihad and cites as fact the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion.” Mr. Meshal did not offer to revoke the charter, but said it was 20 years old, adding, “We are shaped by our experiences.”
He explained why he was giving the interview, his first to an American news organization in a year, by saying: “To understand Hamas is to listen to its vision directly. Hamas is delighted when people want to hear from its leaders directly, not about the movement through others.”
Yes, don’t pay any attention to our basic founding document. It no longer represents our views, although we refuse to change or replace it. Think of it as … a tradition. Kind of like killing Jews and blaming them for all of our own stupidity. Yeah, that’s the ticket!
Meshal is smart enough to know that Obama wants an excuse to engage with Hamas, and Meshal will go just far enough to offer it. Obama had to get rid of Robert Malley, one of his closest foreign-policy advisers, when Malley’s meetings with Hamas became public. However, Malley has reportedly continued working for Obama on an informal basis, giving Hamas some hope of capturing the new American president’s ear.
Even if the rocket attacks have stopped — and I’m not sure that’s the case — Hamas has stopped and restarted them before. They didn’t stop them out of humanitarian concerns, but for political expediency. The “ignore our charter” argument is just the same old political kabuki terrorists from Hamas have used for years. If they want a two-state solution, then they need to commit to it by ending violence and reflecting it in their organizational statements. Otherwise, this is just another con from a master aimed at a novice.