CAIRO — Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group that has governed the Gaza Strip for a decade, is drafting a new platform to present a more pragmatic and cooperative face to the world, Hamas officials confirmed on Thursday.
The document would mark a departure from the group’s contentious 1988 charter, in which it promised to “obliterate” Israel and characterized its struggle as specifically against Jews. The new document defines Hamas’s enemies as “occupiers.”
“It means that we don’t fight Jews because they are Jews,” said Taher el-Nounou, a Hamas spokesman in Gaza. “Our struggle is only against those who occupied our lands.”
The new document would accept borders of the territory captured by Israel in the 1967 war as the basis for a Palestinian state. It would not recognize Israel, however, nor would it give up future claims to all of what Hamas considers Palestinian lands.
Mr. Nounou said the document, the result of four years of work, is not yet final and has not yet been approved by Hamas’s governing bodies.
Nor are its contents wholly new, even though they seem now to carry both practical and symbolic weight, particularly in Hamas’s relations with Egypt. Egypt controls the southern border of Gaza, limiting the movement of people and goods in and out of the increasingly impoverished territory. Israel controls access from all other sides, including the Mediterranean, in what critics call a siege against the enclave of more than two million people.
To improve Hamas’s ties with Egypt, the document would declare that the group is not a part of the Muslim Brotherhood, which is under increasing government pressure in Egypt. Hamas’s 1988 charter specified that the group was a part of the Muslim Brotherhood.
Hamas officials and other analysts said the document seemed intended to alleviate the group’s international isolation. Hamas is considered a terrorist group by the United States, by many other nations and by the European Union, and it has found itself marginalized while its main Palestinian rival, the Fatah faction that rules the West Bank, engages in international diplomacy to advance the Palestinian cause.
The new document, however moderated, is not likely to change that situation by itself. But Ahmad Yousif, an expert on Islamic movements who once served as an adviser to the Hamas leader Ismail Haniya, said the new platform might help soften outside perceptions of the group.
“The covenant was criticized because its language was against Jews and international law,” he said, referring to the 1988 charter. “Now we have a document that says Jews are not our enemy.”
“The enemy is clear: the Zionist occupation,” he said.
Kobi Michael of the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University said he was skeptical of the new document.
Mr. Michael, who formerly led the Palestinian desk at the Israeli Ministry for Strategic Affairs, said there was no assurance that Hamas would adopt the new platform. Even if it did, he said, the document would not change Hamas’s policy of violent resistance against Israel, nor weaken the grip of its new hard-line leader in Gaza, Yehya Sinwar.
“They are trying to use the sort of language that will be more accepted by the international community,” Mr. Michael said of Hamas. “They will not change their methods — the use of terror and the use of violence against Israeli citizens.”