CONFLICTS

Netanyahu blasts terror funding as Hamas tries to soften image

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday slammed Palestinian funding of anti-Israel attacks, asking Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas: “How can you talk about peace and fund terrorism?”

Netanyahu, speaking on Israel’s Memorial Day during a service for terror victims, urged Abbas to “stop funding terrorism.”

“Cancel the payments to murderers, annul the law that requires payments to murderers,” he said. “Fund peace, not murder.”

The comments came just hours before Palestinian terror group Hamas tried to soften some of its more extreme policies detailed in a new policy document to be issued Monday, Gulf Arab sources said. The Islamist organization will no longer call for Israel’s destruction and will drop its association with the Muslim Brotherhood. Sources also told The Associated Press that the group's leader will present a new political program that accepts statehood in parts of historic Palestine, but does not drop the quest for "liberating" all the land between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River, including what is now Israel.

Israel said the revised document was an attempt to present a false image to the world.

“Hamas is attempting to fool the world but it will not succeed,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement. “Daily, Hamas leaders call for genocide of all Jews and the destruction of Israel. They dig terror tunnels and have launched thousands upon thousands of missiles at Israeli civilians. Schools and mosques run by Hamas teach children that Jews are apes and pigs. This is the real Hamas.”

Hamas decided to officially unveil the document now because of President Trump’s efforts to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and his planned White House meeting later this week with Abbas, Hamas sources told Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan called the document “a mere PR stunt” aimed at gaining international legitimacy while the organization continues to perpetuate terrorism, incitement to violence and a refusal to recognize Israel's right to exist.

“The international community must not consider Hamas’s platform as a change in policy for the movement, which in reality works every day to indiscriminately murder Jews and Israelis while exploiting Gaza's civilian population as a human shield,” Erdan said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.