Netanyahu tosses Hamas policy paper on Israel into waste bin

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs a weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem May 7, 2017. REUTERS/Oded Balilty/Pool

By Ori Lewis

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday symbolically tossed into a bin a Hamas policy paper published last week that set out an apparent softening of the Palestinian Islamist group’s stance toward Israel.

In a document issued last Monday, Hamas said it was dropping its longstanding call for Israel’s destruction, but said it still rejected the Jewish state’s right to exist and continued to back “armed struggle” against it.

The Israeli government has said the document aimed to deceive the world that Hamas was becoming more moderate.

Netanyahu, in a 97-second video clip aired on social media on Sunday, said that news outlets had been taken in by “fake news”. Sitting behind his desk with tense music playing in the background, he said that in its “hateful document”, Hamas “lies to the world”. He then pulled up a waste paper bin, crumpled the document into a ball and tossed it away.

“The new Hamas document says that Israel has no right to exist, it says every inch of our land belongs to the Palestinians, it says there is no acceptable solution other than to remove Israel… they want to use their state to destroy our state,” Netanyahu said.

Founded in 1987 as an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood, the banned Egyptian Islamist movement, Hamas has fought three wars with Israel since 2007 and has carried out hundreds of armed attacks in Israel and in Israeli-occupied territories.

Many Western countries classify Hamas as a terrorist group over its failure to renounce violence, recognize Israel’s right to exist and accept existing interim Israeli-Palestinian peace agreements.

Outgoing Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said Hamas’s fight was not against Judaism as a religion but against what he called “aggressor Zionists”. Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, was named on Saturday to succeed Meshaal.

Netanyahu concluded his clip by saying that “Hamas murders women and children, it’s launched tens of thousands of missiles at our homes, it brainwashes Palestinian kids in suicide kindergarten camps,” before binning the document.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Susan Fenton)

Seeking a trade, Israel to withhold bodies of Palestinian militants

Palestinian Hamas militants march during a military parade marking the 29th anniversary of the founding of the Hamas movement, in the northern of Gaza St

JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israel said on Sunday it will withhold the bodies of Palestinian militants killed in attacks against its citizens as it seeks to pressure the Islamist movement Hamas to return the remains of soldiers and hand back missing Israeli civilians.

Hamas says it is holding two Israeli soldiers whom the army declared dead after they were lost in action in the 2014 Gaza war. The group also says it is holding two Israeli civilians who  strayed into the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Israel’s security cabinet, a forum of senior ministers, made the decision on Sunday, enacting what it said would be a permanent policy for dealing with the bodies of militants.

“The security cabinet discussed ways to effect the return of fallen soldiers and of civilians held in the Gaza Strip … and decided that (the bodies of militants) should be buried, rather than returned,” the statement said.

Under the new policy, the bodies could be exhumed and handed back for burial if Hamas was willing to strike deals. It marks a  hardening of Israel’s stance: during 2016, according to the Israeli army, 102 bodies were returned for burial.

Israeli officials have previously signaled they are willing to repeat past amnesties of jailed Palestinians in order to recover the two soldiers’ remains and the civilians held by Hamas. But Hamas has said Israel must make a preliminary release of prisoners before it will discuss such a deal.

(Writing by Ori Lewis; Editing by Mark Trevelyan; Editing by Mark Trevelyan)

Gallup Finds More Americans Want Stricter Abortion Laws

A Gallup survey finds that many Americans are not happy with the current laws regarding abortion in the nation and those who are dissatisfied want stricter laws by a 2-1 margin.

The poll showed that only 34 percent of Americans are satisfied with current abortion law.  That’s the lowest since Gallup began polling on the question.

Almost half, 48 percent, are dissatisfied with current policies.  Twenty-four percent want stricter laws while the remaining 24 percent was split evenly between keeping the laws the same despite their dissatisfaction and making abortion easier to obtain.

Those polled who identified as Republicans showed the greatest level of increasing dissatisfaction with abortion laws.  Satisfaction with the laws has fallen from 42 percent to 26 percent in the last three years.

Democrats and independent voters have stayed roughly the same when it came to their satisfaction levels.  However, among independents, the dissatisfied would like to see stricter laws by a margin of 25 to 9 percent.

The polling had a margin of error of four percentage points.