The Hamas Hudna Hoodwink
Hamas’ leader in Gaza, Mahmoud al-Zahar, has declared Hamas’ demands of Israel and offered them up to CNN’s Wolf Blitzer accompanied in conjunction with ‘hudna’, or truce. Key to his demands were Israel withdrawing from ‘the occupied areas’ and returning to the pre-1967 borders. But while al-Zahar spoke Sunday of ‘hudna’ from Gaza City, Hamas’ Damascus leadership spoke of resistance and offered a differing definition of ‘occupied territory’, one in line with the actual Hamas founding charter.
Al-Zahar refused to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist, claiming that Hamas would decide that issue once they met his demands as set forth. Those demands include “to release our detainees; to stop their aggression; to make geographic link between Gaza Strip and West Bank”.
The substance of the above demands aside, the true insight into the subject offered by Hamas came with the qualifier that followed the demands, as al-Zahar concluded, “at that time, with assurance from other sides, we are going to accept to establish our independent state at that time, and give us one or two, 10, 15 years time in order to see what is the real intention of Israel after that.”
In short, if Israel releases all of its prisoners (not happening, as many are held on direct charges of acts of terrorism), pulls out of the West Bank entirely (including all settlements), ceases all operations (presumably including future operations in reaction to attacks by any other Palestinian-based terror group not recognizing a Hamas hudna), and gives them an additional swath of land from Israel proper in the Negev Desert that links Gaza and the West Bank, then Hamas will think about reconsidering their recognition of Israel.
This is not a proposal for peace. It is a non-sequitur.
With al-Zahar’s demands that Israel withdraws from ‘occupied areas’, as he defined it to meet short-term peace, it is important to note that from the Damascus headquarters of Hamas, Khaled Meshal stated that Hamas will not “submit to pressure to recognize Israel, because the occupation is illegitimate and we will not abandon our rights.” The Hamas charter states clearly that all of the land of Palestine (by Hamas definition, from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea) is a waqf (devine endowment from God) to be governed by Muslims for all of time. Therefor, all of Israel is itself the occupation of which Meshal speaks. This inconsistency of definition often goes missed or misunderstood by the citizen observers in the West. It is clearly understood by the Palestinians.
From the text of the Hamas charter:
The Islamic Resistance Movement [Hamas] believes that the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection, no one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it. No Arab country nor the aggregate of all Arab countries, and no Arab King or President nor all of them in the aggregate, have that right, nor has that right any organization or the aggregate of all organizations, be they Palestinian or Arab, because Palestine is an Islamic Waqf throughout all generations and to the Day of Resurrection.
Not even an Arab or even all of the Arabs can give this away. This is also important to note, especially recalling al-Zahar’s statement that, after Israel meets the demands he set forth today that, “at that time, with assurance from other sides, we are going to accept to establish our independent state…” Hamas is not in the business of negotiating peace with assurance from other sides, . This is also expressly stated in the Hamas charter under Article 13.
[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement. For renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion; the nationalism of the Islamic Resistance Movement is part of its faith, the movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their Jihad: “Allah is the all-powerful, but most people are not aware.”
Al-Zahar’s words are clearly at odds with the very founding charter of Hamas when he acquiesces to “assurance from other sides”.
Furthermore, with the Charter’s previous definition of Palestine (from the river to the sea), to recognize Israel is to renounce part of Palestine, which is not the right of any or even all Arab Muslims to do (including Hamas) . Therefore, in ‘one, two, ten or fifteen years’, al-Zahar and the rest of Hamas will have to ‘renounce part of the religion’ in order to recognize Israel. Al Zahar has committed Hamas and the Palestinians to nothing while demanding Israel make great concessions.
Al-Zahar’s words are empty and certain to fall on deaf Israeli ears. It will be interesting to see how strong the calls will be from certain quarters to accept this as an olive branch of sorts and a sign that Hamas is prepared for peace.