Hamas - Goals

Goals

Hamas's 1988 charter calls for the replacement of Israel and the Palestinian Territories with an Islamic Palestinian state. After the elections in 2006, Hamas co-founder Mahmoud Al-Zahar did not rule out the possibility of accepting a "temporary two-state solution", and stated that he dreamed "of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it." Xinhua reports that Al-Zahar "did not rule out the possibility of having Jews, Muslims and Christians living under the sovereignty of an Islamic state." In late 2006, Ismail Haniyeh, the political leader of Hamas, said that if a Palestinian state was formed within the 1967 lines, Hamas was willing to declare a truce that could last as long as 20 years, and stated that Hamas will never recognize the "usurper Zionist government" and will continue "jihad-like movement until the liberation of Jerusalem".

In March 2006, Hamas released its official legislative program. The document clearly signaled that Hamas could refer the issue of recognizing Israel to a national referendum. Under the heading "Recognition of Israel," it stated simply (AFP, 3/11/06): "The question of recognizing Israel is not the jurisdiction of one faction, nor the government, but a decision for the Palestinian people." This was a major shift away from their 1988 charter. A few months later, via Maryland's Jerome Segal, the group sent a letter to US President George Bush stating they "don't mind having a Palestinian state in the 1967 borders", and asked for direct negotiations: "Segal emphasized that a state within the 1967 borders and a truce for many years could be considered Hamas' de facto recognition of Israel."

In an April 2008 meeting between Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and former US President Jimmy Carter, an understanding was reached in which Hamas agreed it would respect the creation of a Palestinian state in the territory seized by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War, provided this were ratified by the Palestinian people in a referendum. Hamas later publicly offered a long-term truce with Israel if Israel agreed to return to its 1967 borders and grant the "right of return" to all Palestinian refugees. In November 2008, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh re-stated that Hamas was willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, and offered Israel a long-term truce "if Israel recognized the Palestinians' national rights." In 2009, in a letter to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Haniyeh repeated his group's support for a two-state settlement based on 1967 borders: "We would never thwart efforts to create an independent Palestinian state with borders June 4, 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital." On 1 December 2010, Ismail Haniyeh again repeated that, "We accept a Palestinian state on the borders of 1967, with Jerusalem as its capital, the release of Palestinian prisoners, and the resolution of the issue of refugees", and that "Hamas will respect the results regardless of whether it differs with its ideology and principles".

In February 2012, according to the Palestinian authority, Hamas forswore the use of violence. Evidence for this was provided by an eruption of violence from Islamic Jihad in March 2012 after an Israeli assassination of a Jihad leader, during which Hamas refrained from attacking Israel. "Israel—despite its mantra that because Hamas is sovereign in Gaza it is responsible for what goes on there—almost seems to understand," wrote Israeli journalists Avi Issacharoff and Amos Harel, "and has not bombed Hamas offices or installations."

Israel has rejected some truce offers by Hamas because it contends the group uses them to prepare for more fighting rather than peace. The Atlantic magazine columnist Jeffrey Goldberg, along with other analysts, believes Hamas may be incapable of permanent reconciliation with Israel. Mkhaimer Abusada, a political scientist at Al Azhar University, writes that Hamas talks "of hudna, not of peace or reconciliation with Israel. They believe over time they will be strong enough to liberate all historic Palestine." Such negative analysis ignores, however, the precedent that when Hamas' parent organisation, the Muslim Brotherhood, came to power in neighbouring Egypt, they upheld their country's peace treaty with Israel. Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu declared he had no problem dealing with the Muslim Brotherhood so long as the peace treaty was respected.

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