Who is Hamas? 5 questions about the Palestinian militant group.

The Palestinian militant group Hamas has agreed to form a unity government led by Mahmoud Abbas, president of the Palestinian Authority and head of rival Palestinian faction Fatah.  But who is Hamas?  What is their relationship with Fatah, and what might Hamas gain from reconciling with them?  Here are five key questions about Hamas.

2. What does Hamas believe?

According to Hamas's founding charter, the land of Palestine is a God-given endowment to the Palestinians. The charter also states that Hamas's long-term goal is the establishment of a Sunni Islamic state on all of historical Palestine. This vision leaves no room for Israel.

But in recent years, some Hamas leaders have indicated they would be amenable to a more moderate approach.  The Washington Report on Middle East Affairs reported in mid-2010 that Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal told American University Professor Robert Pastor that the charter is a piece of history and no longer relevant, but cannot be changed for internal reasons.  Mr. Meshal, who recently said he will not run for reelection, has also recently indicated that Hamas could confront Israel through nonviolent means.

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