Deconstruction Zone: Has Hamas changed?
Dec 17, 2021 | Khaled Abu Toameh
One of the arguments being raised against the British Government’s recent decision to designate all of Hamas as a terrorist organisation is that the Gaza-based movement has changed and now supports the establishment of a Palestinian state next to Israel.
Opponents of the UK’s decision claim that in 2017 Hamas “softened its stance on Israel by accepting the idea of a Palestinian state in territories occupied by Israel in the six-day war of 1967.”
The purported change, they argue, was included in a new document announced by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal at a press conference in Doha, Qatar. Mashaal was quoted as saying:
“Hamas advocates the liberation of all of Palestine, but is ready to support the [Palestinian] state on 1967 borders without recognizing Israel or ceding any rights.”
A year later, however, Mashaal said in an interview with the Qatari-owned Al-Jazeera television network that the document was “not a tactical or strategic change,” adding that Hamas has not changed or abandoned its 1988 Charter.
There are three points that need to be taken into consideration when talking about the 2017 Hamas document.
First, the document reportedly depicting Hamas as a moderate group that accepts the “two-state solution” is a bluff intended to dupe the international community. As Mashaal himself explained, even if Hamas accepts a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem, that does not mean that it would ever recognise Israel’s right to exist. Hamas, in short, is saying: We will take whatever you give us now – starting with a Palestinian state – and we will use this to slaughter you.
Second, Hamas has not renounced violence and terrorism. In fact, it intends to continue the “resistance” and jihad (holy war) against Israel after the establishment of the Palestinian state with the purpose of “liberating all of Palestine.” When Hamas leaders talk about “resistance,” they are referring to the murder of Jews through suicide bombings, stabbings, drive-by shootings and rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at Israeli cities and towns.
Third, the new document did not cancel or change the content of the Hamas Charter, which, according to Hamas leaders, remains valid and relevant to this day.
Hamas’ representative in Iran, Khaled Qaddoumi, clarified in 2017 that the talk about Hamas accepting a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem was in the context of a plan to destroy Israel in phases.
Qaddoumi was asked: “We understand that you (Hamas) are seeking to liberate Palestine in phases?”
He replied by explaining that even if Hamas accepts a Palestinian state on the pre-1967 lines, it will never recognise Israel’s right to exist:
“We don’t accept the concept of recognising the Zionist entity in return for a Palestinian state. The concept we accept is one that says that you can liberate part of the homeland now in order to liberate the other part [later].”
Like most Hamas leaders, Qaddoumi, too, is saying that his group remains committed and loyal to its 1988 Charter.
Here is what the Charter says about peace initiatives and plans to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict:
“[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 movement educates its members to adhere to its principles and to raise the banner of Allah over their homeland as they fight their jihad [against Israel]… There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad.” (Article 13)
Days after the UK decision was announced, the Hamas leadership said in a statement published on Nov. 29, 2021:
“Palestine – all of Palestine – from its [Mediterranean] sea to its [Jordan] river, is for the Palestinian people, and there is no place or legitimacy for strangers over any inch of it. The comprehensive resistance is a legitimate right guaranteed to us by all international laws, foremost among which is the armed resistance against the Zionist enemy that has usurped our land.”
Hamas, evidently, has not changed or “softened” its position towards Israel. In fact, since the 2017 document was announced by Mashaal, Hamas has fired thousands of rockets at Israel and carried out dozens of terrorist attacks against Israelis. The statements of Hamas leaders show that they dissemble less than many of their own apologists in the West, who claim that they understand Hamas better than Hamas understands itself.