Now that the Arab league has voted in favor of moving to direct talks between Palestine and Israel, it is looking as though Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will agree to such talks in September (regardless of strong Israeli signals that the settlement freeze will not be (fully) extended). As the two sides get closer to (talking about) peace, it is worth reminding people that the Palestinian delegation represents only half of Palestine and without the full participation of Hamas, any deal struck with Israel is likely to be made in vain.
The common tagline against Hamas is that the group is a terrorist organization that is aiming for the destruction of Israel and the (re)establishment of Islamic law over all of historic Palestine. Hardliners in Israel and the US say that the group must be isolated until it either disintegrates or evolves into a peace-loving group that accepts the state of Israel. While Hamas has become much more moderate throughout the last half-decade, many believe that the moderation cannot be trusted until the group agrees to amend its charter – an anti-Semitic document that rejects the Israeli state.
[tweetmeme] Until now, Hamas has refused to update its founding document and has thus been left out of negotiations for peace. The reality, though, is that the Antisemitism prevalent in the charter no longer correctly describes the position of Hamas and the group should be brought into the peace talks.
The Hamas charter is undeniably a racist document that denies Israel’s right to exist; however, Hamas officials have repeatedly said that the group would accept an Israel based on the 1967 borders and that the resistance would end when Israel ends the occupation of Gaza and the West Bank. Unfortunately, the written documentation (the Hamas charter) exists as ‘proof’ that Hamas cannot be trusted.
But what about Israeli PM Netanyahu’s Likud Party? The Likud Party’s founding charter (while perhaps less racist than the Hamas document) similarly denies the existence of a Palestinian state. If we were to take a quick look comparing the Likud charter:
The Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza are the realization of Zionist values. Settlement of the land is a clear expression of the unassailable right of the Jewish people to the Land of Israel and constitutes an important asset in the defense of the vital interests of the State of Israel. The Likud will continue to strengthen and develop these communities and will prevent their uprooting…
The Government of Israel flatly rejects the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.
The Palestinians can run their lives freely in the framework of self-rule, but not as an independent and sovereign state.
“Jerusalem is the eternal, united capital of the State of Israel and only of Israel. The government will flatly reject Palestinian proposals to divide Jerusalem, including the plan to divide the city presented to the Knesset by the Arab factions and supported by many members of Labor and Meretz.”
with the Hamas charter:
Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it” (The Martyr, Imam Hassan al-Banna, of blessed memory)….
The Islamic Resistance Movement is one of the links in the chain of the struggle against the Zionist invaders…
Moreover, if the links have been distant from each other and if obstacles, placed by those who are the lackeys of Zionism in the way of the fighters obstructed the continuation of the struggle, the Islamic Resistance Movement aspires to the realisation of Allah’s promise, no matter how long that should take. The Prophet, Allah bless him and grant him salvation, has said:
“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Muslims fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Muslims, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Muslim).
So both Netanyahu and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh lead parties that deny the existence of Palestine and Israel (respectively) but both leaders have made speeches accepting the other state. How is it that the Likud party, then, is allowed to participate in negotiations and Hamas is not?
Don’t get me wrong; Hamas is an organization with a violent terrorist past that must continue to evolve. I believe that the charter of Hamas must be amended or even completely rewritten to accurately reflect the ‘new’ Hamas. What confounds me, though, is the willingness of the world to blindly take Netanyahu’s peaceful rhetoric as sincere. This is a man who only accepted the possibility of a Palestinian state last year, who was videoed bragging about destroying the Oslo accords and calling its American allies easily pliable, who has repeatedly made provocative moves and blunders during his premiership supporting the continued colonization of Palestine.
Hamas needs to continue its reformation; it needs to publicly and officially accept Israeli borders based on the 1967 Green Line; and it needs to completely change a charter that only provides more ammunition for its detractors. The same standards and demands, however, must be placed upon Netanyahu and the Likud Party. Just as Israel cannot negotiate with a Hamas that denies the existence of the Jewish State, Palestine cannot make any progress with an Israeli government that does not accept the ‘establishment of a Palestinian Arab state west of the Jordan river.’