The Prime Minister of Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, announced in a press conference today that Hamas will be willing to accept a peace accord that will constitute a Palestinian state in the 67 borders (including Jerusalem) and a solution to the refugees, and will abide by it if it passes a referendum.
Not entirely new. They once made a similar promise to Jimmy Carter, and some of them said things to that effect in interviews. But it wasn't worth much, because most of the time they said the opposite. Today was the first time I saw a Hamas leader actually come out and say it to the cameras. This, in effect, makes it the new official line of Hamas.
No need to get too excited. Haniyeh didn't say that Hamas recognizes Israel's right to exist, and didn't discard the Antisemitic Hamas Charter. Since he knows we are still a long way away from a peace accord, he knows this statement will not stand any tests. That basically gives Hamas the freedom to keep working for the annihilation of Israel.
Still, something very important has happened. If that is indeed the new official line of Hamas, it means the whole Palestinian consciousness shifts a little to the left. Implied in this statement is the possibility of recognition in Israel's right to exist. That means that Hamas supporters can now accept Israel. A small step, but very fundamental.
That's how you change reality, with small steps such as these. Since Hamas was elected, I awaited the day it would show signs of moderation. It took them five years to make the first step. Cheers.