- Although peaceful coexistence between Israel and Hamas is clearly •not possible under
the formulations that comprise Hamas’s 1988 charter, Hamas has, in practice, moved
well beyond its charter. Indeed, Hamas has been carefully and consciously adjusting
its political program for years and has sent repeated signals that it may be ready to
begin a process of coexisting with Israel.
- As evidenced by numerous statements, Hamas is not hostile to Jews because of religion.
Rather, Hamas’s view toward Israel is based on a fundamental belief that Israel
has occupied land that is inherently Palestinian and Islamic.
- For Hamas, “recognition” of Israel would represent a negation of the rightness of its
own cause and would be indefensible under Islam. It considers unacceptable for itself
the actions of those Muslim countries that have recognized Israel, such as Egypt and
Jordan, and those that have indicated their willingness to do so, such as Saudi Arabia
and the rest of the Arab League, because they have provided no theological justification
for their policies toward Israel.
- Although Hamas, as an Islamic organization, will not transgress shari‘a, which it
understands as forbidding recognition, it has formulated mechanisms that allow
it to deal with the reality of Israel as a fait accompli. These mechanisms include
the religious concepts of tahadiya and hudna and Hamas’s own concept of
- Tahadiya refers to a short-term calming period between conflicting parties during
which differences are not put aside. A tahadiya stopped most violence between Hamas
and Israel from June to December 2008.
- Hudna is a truce for a specific period, which is based on the practice of the Prophet
Mohammad and on subsequent events in Muslim history. Hamas has indicated on a
number of occasions its willingness to accede to a hudna with Israel, assuming basic
Palestinian rights as set forth in the Arab Peace Initiative (API) are agreed to first.
- Palestinian legitimacy is a term employed by Hamas to describe its willingness to consider
accepting a binding peace treaty, such as the proposal set forth in the API, so
long as the treaty is first ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Although
Hamas would not directly participate in peace negotiations with Israel, Hamas has
indicated that it would be willing to be part of a Palestinian coalition government
with Fatah under which Fatah would negotiate the actual treaty.
- Although a peace process under such circumstances might, for Israelis and Westerners,
seem involved, arcane, and of dubious utility, it is necessary to consider the
possibility of such a process because there is no realistic scenario under which Hamas
will disappear. Understanding the Islamic bases of Hamas’s policies and worldview will
be essential for the success of any process in which it is engaged.
Wednesday, June 17, 2009
The United States Institute for Peace has issued an appraisal by Paul L. Scham of the Gildenhorn Institute for Israel Studies and Osama Abu Irshaid of what they see as the Hamas position. It's interesting. This is the summary: