RELIGION

New Hamas program softens language, but some goals remain

Hamas officials say 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.

The program is to be made public Monday in Qatar by Khaled Mashaal, the leader-in-exile of Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to reveal details to the media.

The five-page document adopts seemingly more moderate language in hopes of helping Hamas break out of its international isolation. It does not formally replace the group's fiery 1987 founding charter.

Hamas redefines itself as a national liberation group, distancing it from its parent movement, the pan-Arab Muslim Brotherhood, which has been outlawed by Gaza neighbor Egypt.

Mashaal's news conference was to begin at 7 p.m. (1600 GMT) at a five-star hotel. But Hamas said it had to delay the presentation after the Doha hotel withdrew consent to host a news conference by the group.

Hamas said the news conference is now set to start at 8:45 p.m. (1745 GMT) at a different hotel in Doha.