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Palestinian Unilateralism in Action: The Hamas Campaign Platform


This commentary is especially valuable because it analyzes the Hamas election platform in detail, and gives us a Palestinian estimate of what it might mean in practice.

The Palestinian Earthquake Series No. (3)
Palestinian Unilateralism in Action
The Hamas Campaign Platform

Reading the Hamas 16 page campaign platform for the legislative elections, one can see its unilateral character clearly. In the preamble. the platform explains that Hamas will work for "Islamic- Arabic security strategy", for "A Palestinian sovereign independent, and free state in all West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem without making concessions in regard to each inch from Palestinian historical land", for "Islamic- Arabic unity" for "Islamic- Arabic and international investment" for the "promotion of voluntary work", and for "economic development", "support the poor", and the "promotion of equal opportunities".

It is clear from that preamble that Hamas raises new concepts regarding security and economic development. In regard of security it is no longer the security of the Palestinians separated from the Arabic- Islamic nation while linked with Israel, but it is the security of the all that nation, that should be built together. Moreover it is not a process to ensure the security of the peace process, but a process to ensure the security of the nation and its citizens.

In regard to the economy the preamble mentions Islamic Arabic investment prior to international investment, which is mentioned in the third place. That includes Iranian funding and funding from other Islamic sources, in addition, they will pressure Arab Countries to increase their financial support to the Palestinians. Moreover the program speaks about supporting the poor, where the "Zakat" monies will be used in this direction. It also mentions promoting voluntary work which reminds one of the seventies of the previous century when the voluntary work of grassroots organizations who do not get any funding from outside was contributing to the Palestinian national economy. Moreover the platform promises about equal opportunities to the Palestinians.

With a title that mentions "reform", followed by a verse from Quran about reform, it is clear that the program is about two main fields of reform discussed in the preamble. One is the security reform and the second is the economic reform, neither of which have anything to do with negotiations or establishing relations with Israel. These represent the unilateral aspects of Hamas program. In addition to these two main sectors of reform, the Hamas program states in the preamble that the prisoners should be released, human rights should be protected, dialogue should be promoted, and also the internal fighting should be prohibited.

In the 12 issues included in the Hamas program, one can find that Hamas speaks in the beginning about its consideration "that the security cooperation with Israel is a big national crime, and those who commit it should be punished severely." This point is again about the Hamas priority to change the concept of security. It also clarifies the positions of Hamas leaders after the elections that the Ministry of Interior should be in their hands, and that the security departments should continue to follow that Ministry and not to be moved to the Authority of Abu Mazen as the leaders of these security departments are calling for, in contradiction to the Basic Law which give the authority over the internal security departments to the Ministry of Interior. These people of these security departments want to follow Abu Mazen because they want to be protected from Hamas punishment for their previous cooperation with Israel. Also, they want to save their salaries.

The program also speaks in the beginning about "resisting normalization with Israel", and later on the issue of "resisting cultural normalizatio,n is mentioned under issue number 8 about Hamas's "Cultural and Media policy". This means that joint Israeli-Palestinian projects will come under severe attack, which will require those engaged in these projects to join forces and also to widen their constituency in the Palestinian society.

Regarding "Political reform and the legislative policy" (point number 5 in Hamas program), Hamas speaks about "Accepting the principle of rotation of authority" and "separation of authorities", which both are fine, then it adds that "new legislation, will be released in order to link all the Palestinians wherever they exist together". That means that Hamas will work for all the Palestinians people and not only to those of West Bank and Gaza Strip.

But, in contradiction to democratic principles, point number 6 is about the "Public freedoms, Judiciary and human rights." Hamas advocates "Making the Islamic Sharia the main source of legislation, and also "work to represent the Sharia courts in the Constitutional Court with a reasonable percentage.". This means that Constitutional Court decisions should be in accordance with Islam. However, Hamas might not rush to implement this point in its program because of the expected resistance from the secular civil society, women's organizations, and Palestinian Christians.

Point number 7 is about Hamas's education policy, stating that "Education should be based on Islam as a comprehensive system for all the aspects of life". Again this policy will face a strong resistance from the Palestinian liberal-democratic, secular and secular groups.

Point number 8 about the "Cultural and edia policy" speaks also about protecting youth against corruption, westernization, and cultural invasion". This point also will face strong resistance in regard to the right of freedom of thinking and freedom of expression.

Point number 9 about "social policies", speaks about "inaugurating laws for social security and combating poverty" which is fine, then it combines "combating drugs and drinking wines" together followed by a pledge to "develop the Zakat Committees".

Point number. 11 speaks about equal citizens rights for the Christians" which is fine, but then point number 12 about women rights limits these rights to those "granted to women by the Sharia." Then the program calls for justice towards women by not "depriving them of the rights allowed by the Sharia", followed by asking women to be righteous and modest, insuring that women are partners to men in the 'Jihad, resistance, building and development".

Thus, the program is fully unilateral towards Israel. Moreover, it has also a lot of unilateralism towards the Palestinian society in a sense that it includes policies that Hamas wants to impose (even if gradually) on Palestinian society.

Conclusion with regard to Peace: Israel and Hamas

Amazingly enough, the Road Map plan to promote a Palestinian process of political legal, administrative, financial, economic, social and security reforms, which was called for in our previous series about the post disengagement period as a "Palestinian Unilateral Track", might be fulfilled now by Hamas in its own way and without American and European funding. Thus, it would ending the period of Fatah failure earlier to fulfill these tasks that are important for functional viability of the future Palestinian state.
The Palestinian unilateral track (Hamas edition), will not of course be very easy. Many of risks, obstacles, threats and challenges are ahead, some of them are internal, and some are external. Moreover there are problems in regard to the content of Hamas reform programs that Palestinian secular society will not be happy with, as noted.

From now on we will have for the first time two unilateral tracks, one Israeli that began last year, and one Palestinian.The second will not accept now to be dealt with as inferior, or unequal, also this second track believes in reciprocity (such as reciprocal Tahdiya calmness with Israel), and deterrence.

This last characteristic might play according to Hamas's understanding of the role of deterring the other side from attacking the Palestinians severely, because of the fear of Hamas retaliation. If this assumption will be proven true, then we will be moving to a new context, where each side will take into consideration in advance the needs of the other side when each side initiates unilateral acts.
In this regard, several Israeli responses to Hamas success are strikingly positive. For instance the Israeli Minister of Defense praised Hamas on 30/1/2006 because it is "showing responsibility" as he said, while Shimon Peres spoke in Davos about a possibility of negotiating with Hamas if it stops its attacks in Israel." Other Israelis are waiting or speaking about giving Hamas time and a chance ...etc. Only a few showed panic. Thus, it looks like the two sides might be for the first time on the track of two unilateral processes conducted without negotiations. However most importantly, we hope, they will try not to initiate severe attacks against each other.

Walid Salem

Previous article in this series:
Hamas Victory - How it Happened, What is to be done?

Walid Salem is the director of Panorama, the Center for the Dissemination of Democracy and Community Development, East Jerusalem office. He is also the author of books and articles on such issues as democracy, citizenship, youth rights, civil society development, Israeli-Palestinian peace-building, and the right of return. Together with Paul Scham and Benjamin Pogrund, he is author of SHARED HISTORIES: A Palestinian-Israeli Dialogue, Left Coast Press, 2005.

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by Moderator @ 12:18 PM CST [Link]


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Replies: 6 comments



The Palestinian Authority election is finally over, The election results are in. The votes have been counted and tallied. And the winner is Hamas, one of the world's leading terrorist organizations. The world is "shocked" and "stunned" at this victory. The political analysts are now grappling with the obvious question, "How can the United States backed "Roadmap to Peace" be implemented with such a group at the helm"?

As Jews we are not "surprised" at the outcome of this election. As a matter of fact, we are shocked that the world is shocked. We are not living in perpetual fantasy, convincing ourselves that the Arabs who call themselves Palestinians want peace with the State of Israel. Their words and actions have been crystal clear for many years. They will not renounce violence to achieve their ends. They clearly and unequivocally call for the total annihilation of the Jewish State. They spell it out for us in neon lights, and yet we remain blind to their true ambitions. Between their well funded propaganda campaign, their active recruitment of suicide bombers and their ability to win the hearts of their people, they know they are winning their war for the "liberation of Palestine".

Immediately following their victory in the polls, Hamas leader Mahmoud A-Zahar said, "The armed struggle will continue, and it will cause Israel to make great concessions, and will change the way Egypt and Jordan relate to Israel as well."

And for those that believe that Hamas is committed to the principle of democracy and can work within the mainstream political framework, it is imperative that we take a closer look at the history of Hamas and their track record.

Hamas was founded by Islamic militant extremists in the Gaza Strip in 1988, shortly after the first intifada broke out. The word Hamas is an acronym for the Arabic words for "Islamic Resistance Movement." The organization is devoted chiefly to the obliteration of Israel. Its charter states, "Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it." The charter further states, "There is no solution for the Palestinian question except through Jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors."

Hamas is responsible for 24 murders before the Oslo Accords, 156 more before the Oslo War began in September 2000, and at least another 377 since then - a total of at least 557.

The organization's first mass attack was a car bomb that blew up at a bus stop in Afula in April 1994, murdering 8 and wounding 51. Among the most horrific Hamas attacks were the following:

22 people murdered and 56 wounded in a suicide bombing attack on the No. 5 bus on Dizengoff Street in Tel Aviv in October of 1994.

26 murdered by suicide bomber on a #18 bus near the Jerusalem Central Bus Station in February of 1996.

16 murdered in the Machane Yehuda open market in Jerusalem in a double suicide attack in July of 1997.

23 dead and 115 wounded when a Hamas suicide bomber blew himself up on a No. 2 bus line coming from the Western Wall in Jerusalem in August of 2003.

45 murdered within the space of five days in March 2002: a suicide Hamas terrorist blew himself up in a Haifa resturant, killing 15, and another one did the same in the Park Hotel in Netanya during a Passover Seder, murdering some 30 and wounding 144.

The ten worst Oslo War Hamas attacks, in which a total of 186 were murdered, also included the following:

June 1, 2001 - Dolpinarium in Tel Aviv, 21 murdered - mostly new-immigrant teenagers from the Soviet Union.

August 9, 2001 - Sbarro's Pizzeria in Jerusalem, 15 murdered

December 2, 2001 - Haifa bus, 15 murdered

May 7, 2002 - Rishon Letzion hall, 16 murdered

June 18, 2002 - #32 bus from Gilo, Jerusalem 19 murdered

March 5, 2003 - #37 bus in Haifa, 15 murdered

June 11, 2003 - #14 bus, Jerusalem, 17 murdered

And the list goes on.

Let us remember the words of the sweet singer of Israel, King David who said, "The will of those who fear Him He will do; and their cry He will hear, and save them." (Psalm 145)

Posted by FERN SIDMAN @ 02/13/2006 09:20 PM CST

" The answer is to purge the Arab enemy from out midst and to treasure the land that the Lord our G-d gave to us in His compassion and mercy"

Glad to see this person has grasped the overall concept of Mid-East Web so firmly.

In fact the world is full of countries established or governed by former "terrorists" who later became statesmen or at least democratic politicians. South Africa is one notable example. Ireland is another. Israel is in fact among this group.

Hamas have come to power for reasons that are complicated and not entirely connected to Israel (although the wall and the continuing settlement of the West Bank cannot have helped). I think the best approach must be to do nothing inflammatory and to wait and see.

Posted by Chris @ 02/21/2006 04:20 PM CST

For Chris and Fern,
Yes I am afraid a lot of people haven't gotten the hang of MidEastWeb ideas yet. Terrorists however come in all sizes and shapes. If a "terrorist" says "let me live in peace and I will let you live in peace" then they got the idea of MidEastWeb and the general idea that has to be the basis of how the world works. But the Hamas says "We will never recognize Israel no matter what." Indeed we don't have much intelligent choice except to wait and see or magically wish them out of existence. However I cannot see making any concessions to such a group, on the basis of "truce now and we kill you later" - that is all they offer and they persist in it.

Fern wrote:
My eyes beheld my return to Zion but your email address is in the USA. It is much easier to be a militant Zionist in the USA. Trust me on that.

Fern wrote:
"Let us remember the words of the sweet singer of Israel,"

Let us remember also the words of the moderator, namely me:

"We may delete or abridge comments that are longer than 250 words"

What didn't you understand about that? It seems you didn't get the idea of MidEastWeb in more ways than one.

As it is written so it must be done. Your "comment" was abridged Please keep comments to a reasonable limit (less than any book of the Bible for example) or get your own blog. We got the idea that you don't like Hamas, or any other Arabs in general. We already know that Hamas doesn't like us Jews, so I guess you are even all around. By writing as you did, you are reducing yourself to their level.

Ami I.

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