Hamas and Hudna: Caveat Emptor
By Steve Schippert | February 9, 2006
Hamas’ political head, Khaled Mashal, is playing to the international thirst for an end to violence between the Palestinians and Israel by offering words incongruous with Hamas’ absolute refusal to recognize Israel or her right to exist. With so many in the international community willing to accept duplicity and long-term failure in exchange for a false sense of relief today, Mashal knows he has a captive and receptive audience in many circles outside the region.
In what amounts essentially to a repeat offer of hudna, the Hamas political leader warmed to the wanting international audience Wednesday by saying that, after Israel’s own March elections, Hamas would be willing to offer a long-term truce (hudna) if Israel would simply withdraw to the pre-1967 borders.
Said Hamas’ Mashal, "Such a peaceful move by Israel could create conditions for the international community to find a solution for all of the region's problems. Otherwise, Hamas is capable of leading the Palestinians in a long fight that they would be better able to bear than Israel."
Such overtures are put forth for international consumption and lauded by headlines such as as ‘Hamas Ready to Talk with Israel’. These should always be viewed in context with Hamas’ rhetoric offered elsewhere and their stated purpose and objective.
What is a long-term truce to Hamas? They have stated that the ultimate recognition of Israel is wholly out of the question and repeatedly reasserted without question their belief that Palestine is a Muslim land that stretches from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea. Just yesterday from Cairo, the words of Khaled Mashal’s own deputy, Moussa Abu Marzouk, should have removed any doubt when he said, “When historic Palestine is reinstated, they can come and live among us. They will have a Palestinian nationality.”
Perhaps Hamas could offer ‘such a peaceful move’ themselves by renouncing terrorism and disarming its terrorist factions. Surely even they can recognize that the international community they so look to for ‘a solution for all of the region's problems’ would embrace them with such affection, generosity and support that the quality of the lives of Palestinians would increase exponentially almost immediately. That, of course, assumes that Hamas’ aim is indeed peace and not the conquering and elimination of the state of Israel.
Much is made of Hamas’ observance of the informal truce with Israel. However, it is important to note that, while claiming no responsibility for attacks under their own name, their members comprise a significant membership in the Popular Resistance Committees, which in the past and even today claimed responsibility for numerous attacks since the informal truce between Hamas and Israel. Does Hamas bear no burden of responsibility for these attacks carried out under the banner of a terrorist cooperative? Does the cooperative serve Hamas’ need for the perception of non-aggression while simply maintaining aggression under another name?
Consider that Hamas’ short-term objectives are to secure the international funds, exceeding $1 billion annually, now in question. While they work their public image and perception, they are on a regional tour of Muslim nations seeking new donors to replace the Western funds. Consider also the very real possibility that the West acquiesces and permits funding Hamas while they also receive (long overdue) support from within their own region. This would result in a terrorist windfall for Hamas, and every extra dollar netted proportionally shortens the amount of time they must observe a hudna they detest.
So, while overtures for public consumption by Hamas are made and others assert to varying degrees for them that Hamas is prepared to discuss peace with Israel, it should be consumed in context with Hamas’ fervent belief that Palestine stretches ‘from the River to the Sea’ and that the Israeli people will one day have ‘a Palestinian nationality’.
With regards to Hamas and their public hints of hudna, the absence of war is not peace.