House Foreign Affairs Head Dismisses Hamas's New Charter as 'Rebranding Effort'

'Until Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist, its words are meaningless,' Rep. Ed Royce says after group accepts possibility of Palestinian state in 1967 borders

Representative Ed Royce, a Republican from California, speaks during a news conference following a House Republican Conference meeting at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 2016.
Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg

A senior Republican congressman expressed strong skepticism on Monday towards Hamas' presentation of a new platform for the Islamist movement, which some analysts perceived as more moderate than its original charter. Rep. Ed Royce of California, the head of the Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives, said that the new platform represented a "rebranding effort" by Hamas, and not a genuine change.

"Until Hamas recognizes Israel’s right to exist, its words are meaningless," Royce stated. "I will see to it that Hamas remains designated a terrorist organization as long as it continues to launch rocket attacks against Israeli civilians, remains an Iranian proxy, and engages in other acts that threaten the U.S. and Israel.”

Royce is the most senior figure in the United States who has responded, as of Monday night, to the new Hamas platform, which was unveiled in Doha earlier in the day. Among other provisions, the new platform accepts the possibility of a Palestinian state along the 1967 "Green Line" border, considered by some a moderation of the Gaza group's position.

Royce's position echoes that of the Israeli leadership, which also downplayed the new platform and called it a continuation of Hamas' long-held positions and objectives. Israel, which responded to the charter even before Hamas' press conference, called the Hamas charter a "smoke screen." 

"The day Hamas stops digging tunnels and diverts its resources to civilian infrastructure and stop educating children to hate Israelis, that would be real change," a statement from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said.