Solana Misunderstands Hamas and Palestine
The European Union's foreign policy chief and principal negotiator in the recent failed negotiations with Iran said in an interview from Israel that he believes Hamas doesn't want to destroy Israel.
In an interview following his talks in Tel Aviv with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Solana insisted that it was "not impossible" for Hamas to change and "recognize the existence of Israel." History had shown that people and nations "adapt to reality," he said. "I don't want to lose hope."
Pressed as to whether he was underestimating the fundamentalist religious imperative at the heart of the Hamas ideology, Solana said, "I cannot imagine that the religious imperative, the real religious imperative, can make anybody destroy another country... Therefore that is an abuse of religion...
"I don't think the essence of Hamas is the destruction of Israel. The essence of Hamas is the liberation of the Palestinians," he added. "The liberation of their people, not the destruction of Israel."
Daniel Freedman at the New York Sun calls Solana an Apologist For Hamas. Perhaps.
Perhaps Javier Solana is the eternal optimist. Any rational observer would certainly hope that he is correct. Yet, an objective observer would find little to support such a belief. Certainly, addressing all members of Hamas or any other group with a blanket statement in disregard of individual thought lends itself to inaccuracies one way or another. But Solana was not addressing his beliefs of individuals within Hamas, he was addressing the foundational structure of the terrorist organization.
In reality, the disconnect between Solana's understanding and Hamas' "essence" lies in the definition of Palestine itself.
With that, a closer look at the formal Hamas Charter is in order. It is important for Western readers to understand first that what the Charter calls "Palestine" is not what is recognized as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, but rather the whole of the land between the Jordan River to the Meditteranean Sea: The West Bank, Gaza and the current state of Israel. This is why Hamas will not recognize Israel as a state...they believe their land was invaded. It is not Israel to them, but Occupied Palestine (again, 'occupied' not being limited to a description of the West Bank or Gaza).
With that context, key portions of the HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement) Charter:
Introduction: ...In so doing, it joined its hands with those of all Jihad fighters for the purpose of liberating Palestine. The souls of its Jihad fighters will encounter those of all Jihad fighters who have sacrificed their lives in the land of Palestine since it was conquered by the Companion of the Prophet, be Allah’s prayer and peace upon him, and until this very day...
For our struggle against the Jews is extremely wide-ranging and grave, so much so that it will need all the loyal efforts we can wield, to be followed by further steps and reinforced by successive battalions from the multifarious Arab and Islamic world, until the enemies are defeated and Allah’s victory prevails.
Article Six: ...Only under the shadow of Islam could the members of all regions coexist in safety and security for their lives, properties and rights.
But of particular note are Articles 11, 12 and 13 of the defining Hamas Charter.
Article 11: The Strategy of Hamas: Palestine is an Islamic Waqf
The Islamic Resistance Movement 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... The ownership of the land by its owners is only one of usufruct, and this Waqf will endure as long as Heaven and earth last. Any demarche in violation of this law of Islam, with regard to Palestine, is baseless and reflects on its perpetrators.
Considering Hamas' national definition of Palestine as being 'From the River to the Sea,' Article 12 carries significance.
Article 12: Hamas in Palestine, Its Views on Homeland and Nationalism
Hamas regards Nationalism (Wataniyya) as part and parcel of the religious faith. Nothing is loftier or deeper in Nationalism than waging Jihad against the enemy and confronting him when he sets foot on the land of the Muslims.
And then there is Article 13, which is at the epicenter of debate regarding Hamas' recognition of Israel, called for by others and steadfastly and openly refused by the group's leadership. Recognition of Israel would essentially shred the founding Charter. Indeed, Article 12's significance is buttressed by what follows it.
Article 13: Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences
[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... There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad. The initiatives, proposals and International Conferences are but a waste of time, an exercise in futility. The Palestinian people are too noble to have their future, their right and their destiny submitted to a vain game.
Western observers and news consumers must understand that the Hamas founding charter sets the definition of Palestine as much more than the West Bank and Gaza. It views the state of Israel as an invasion, with the state itself on occupied territory. It rejects all negotiations, agreements and settlements that leave the state of Israel on their 'occupied territory.' it openly states that the only solution is through Jihad, that its principle enemy is "the Jews" and that other religions can only coexist "under the shadow of Islam."
Mr. Solana is correct. Hamas seeks to liberate Palestine. Mr. Solana, however, fails to share the same definition of Palestine that Hamas itself recognizes (...the land of Palestine... was conquered by the Companion of the Prophet.)
If Hamas were to ever share Solana's definition of Palestine (West Bank & Gaza), Hamas would cease being Hamas by very definition as set forth in their founding charter.