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Hamas and the 1967 borders: political implications and geostrategic effects

Thursday, 11 May 2017 07:37
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by Melania Malomo (EPOS)
EPOS Insights


Last May 1, while we were celebrating the Labour Day, Hamas made an official statement in Doha, the capital of Qatar. Hamas stated that they have modified their political charter in order to accept the 1967 borders (with Israel), but they clarified that this does not mean that they want to recognize the state of Israel. This is the last formal act as a leader of Khaled Meshal, who has been leading the organization since 2004. He affirmed that: “Hamas considers the establishment of a Palestinian state, sovereign and complete, on the basis of June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital and the provision for all the refugees to return to their homeland is an agreeable form that has won a consensus among all the movement members". Las January, Hamas and Al-Fatah reached an agreement in Moscow under  Russia’s and Egypt’s supervision after years of disputes in order to find an agreement and finally being together in governing Palestine.

Hamas is the Palestinian organization that is ruling the Gaza Strip since the First Intifada broke out. This movement, together with other groups, organized the uprisings, coordinating actions in Gaza and in the West Bank trough brochure, that they called “bayans”. Hamas is operating in Gaza since the Strip and the West Bank were separated during the Six-Days War. Al-Fatah leadership was not able to reach Gaza at that time, but this did not constitute a limit for the inhabitants of Gaza. They started a civil protest against the “occupation” gathering in parades, for example, in which they used to show their flag and the well-known stone throwing. But they were operating since 1967 when they were a part of “Muslim Brotherhood”. In the twenty years between 1967 and 1987, they were concerned about restoring Palestinian civil society, the same as what Al-Fatah was doing in the West Bank. Overall, they played an important role in unifying people who lived in refugee camps and they tried to alleviate their suffering while Israel was operating the “partial integration” policy, in order to make Palestinians territories strictly dependent from the Israeli State, particularly important for their economy. At the very first beginning, the uprisings were mainly pacific; then, Hamas began to do a wide use of suicide bombers for the first time in Palestinian history.

The relationships between Ahmad Yasin and Yasser Arafat were not simple and, since Al-Fatah was turned into the Palestinian Authority, its leadership has always been tended to dissociate themselves from Hamas in order to demonstrate that their intentions are completely different and that they would never use terroristic attack as a way to conduct their actions. In fact, during the 90s, the Palestinian Authority arrested some followers of Hamas, and since 2006, when Hamas won the elections and took formally and legally the power in Gaza Strip, the relations between the two political movements have become more difficult.

If, on one hand, the ex-PLO has been more open to discussion with Israel in order to try to reach an agreement to start the negotiations, on the other hand, Hamas has always had more radical positions towards Israel. The main aim of Hamas is to liberate the historical Palestine from Israel  and then to create an Islamic nation that is considered as a natural and strategic depth for the Palestinian people. In fact, since they took power in the Strip, they imposed Islamic laws and they are supported by a “moral police” that is in charge of controlling if people follow the correct lifestyle.

Recently, the political positions of Hamas have become more diplomatic, especially because they have been isolated from their historical allies such as Iran, Syria and Egypt, and the group itself has suffered for internal divisions. There are two main factions: Ismail Haniyeh and Khaled Meshaal, supported by Qatar, are ruling Gaza according to what was written on the political program that allowed them to win the elections in 2006; the other faction is led by Iran allies Marwan Issa and Mohammed Deif, the chief of the al-Qassam brigades, and they stand for continuing the war and avoid compromising. Currently, the faction that is supported by Qatar is still governing the movement, while Iranian party’s ideas are particularly heavy among the armed side of the organization.

The new Political Charter of Hamas not only accepts the constitution of the State of Palestine into 1967 borders, but it is also less radicalized than the previous one: Hamas used to present itself as a “religious Islamic resistance movement” more than a Palestinian one, but today they define themselves as a “national Palestinian movement”. Currently, the “permanent war” against Israel is not based on religion or ethnicity, but it is carried on only against who is occupying the Palestinian land and is depriving the population of their basic human rights. All the anti-Semitic articles, for example, were eliminated from the Charter. The religious aspect, the references to Allah and the Islamic law are still prevalent. The charter is now addressed to all the Palestinians, event to the Christian, recognizing the holiness of their homeland, and it emphasizes the role of women as a vital contribution to the society. More important, Meshaal highlighted that Hamas is independent from the “Muslim Brotherhood” that some Arab states, such us Egypt or Saudi Arabia, consider a terrorist organization.

The new political positions of Hamas are certainly a consistent step forward considering its historical point of view, and the new leadership of Ismail Haniyeh has shown that the organization wants a fresh start with a modern position, never forgetting the main aim that is liberating Palestine from Israel, and realizing people’s self-determination. What Hamas has done and is doing might be seen as a request of legitimacy from the Arab world and the international community in defending the rights of the Palestinians. Glaringly, this opening is not towards Israel, that they still consider an enemy. Israel is very suspicious and skeptical regarding the new Charter of Hamas, as the last statement of Netanyahu  proves. He criticized the Charter before it was officially presented, and the Israeli Prime Minister has considered it as a trick with whom Hamas wants the entire world to believe in their good intention. But the new position of Hamas is designated to survive: the Palestinians seem to have a new unified leadership that could help them in overcoming their physical division in order to claim the sovereignty of a Palestinian State and to raise a new strong Palestinian society that would be able to stand together for fulfilling their requests in a more pacific way.


DISCLAIMER: The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect EPOS WorldView’s

Last modified on Thursday, 11 May 2017 07:50
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