Problems on hold
On the first of May, Hamas surprised the world by announcing its new charter from Doha, Qatar. The charter brims with fallacies and contradictions. For the first time, Hamas mentions that it recognises the 1967 borders between Israel and the Palestinian authorities in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem. This, the charter mentions, without ceding any of the Palestinian rights, lands, or right to return; and short of recognising the ‘Zionist entity’. The charter made no mention of the affiliation of Hamas to the Muslim Brotherhood, as spelled out in its original foundation charter in 1988: that the movement is the Palestinian resistance wing of the Muslim Brotherhood group.
Once issued, Hamas’s new charter made the headlines throughout the Arab region and the world; Israel, however, responded by sarcastically belittling its value. A torrent of sceptical reactions from the media followed; all were dubious about the credibility of the charter, its timing and intentions, and the lack of mention of any serious mechanism to put the charter into action.
Let us first establish a point of order. How come Hamas issued this charter from Doha and not from Gaza, Hamas’s headquarters and the heart of its territory? Was the charter issued by an authority or a government in exile? Was the charter introduced to the Palestinian people in Gaza, whom Hamas claims to represent and fight for their rights? Issuing the charter from Doha only confirms reports that suggest Hamas heads, who lead luxury lives in Qatar, are out of touch with the suffering of the Palestinian people; to say nothing of the limitless political and financial support that they get from Qatar which openly supports the Muslim Brotherhood.
Why wasn’t the charter issued from Ramallah, the capital of the Palestinian Authority (PA), in presence of PA President Mahmoud Abbas? Wouldn’t this have had a resounding impact on world events, catapulting the Palestinian cause onto the negotiation table? Yet the charter completely ignored any mention of Palestinian conciliation or reunion between the PA and Hamas, between Ramallah and Gaza. Hamas is fully aware that it has wasted, through its intransigence and deviousness, two-decades-long efforts at achieving Palestinian conciliation, including the diligent, arduous efforts by Major General Omar Suleiman (1936 – 2012), former Head of the Egyptian Intelligence Service, on that score. How often did Major General Suleiman announce breakthroughs in negotiations between Ramallah and Gaza, only for Hamas to let him down by reneging on the agreement or by fleeing the signing sessions! It was obvious Hamas possessed neither the political will nor the desire to resolve the Palestinian case, since a resolution presumably threatened to throw it off the political scene, implying that its leaders would lose the lucrative business of garnering support, funds, arms and ammunition, and prestige for the ‘Palestinian struggle’. Political circles talked of Palestinian divisions and fragmentation being a blessing in disguise for Israel by providing the perfect reason why Israel could not sit down to talks with either the Palestinian Authority or Hamas.
Hamas’s new charter mentions that it was not issued in any rush; its leaders had agreed upon it four years ago. As such, the charter is claimed to reflect the development of its political ideology. It also claims large political participation in Palestinian lands and abroad, and that it has been reviewed by Hamas’s political and consultative offices, and by experts in international law. The charter thus professes to serve the just Palestinian case by offering a pragmatic policy without tampering with constants. Didn’t I say that the charter brims with fallacies and contradictions? It endorses a new policy without ceding the old, it announces the recognition of the 1967 borders, yet does not relinquish the objective of full recovery of the Palestinian lands occupied since 1948. It implicitly accepts to sit down to negotiations with Israel, whereas it states that it does not recognise the ‘Zionist entity’. How come international law experts endorsed such play on words?
Does Hamas really believe the charter it has issued? Does it think that regional or international political forces believe it? Hamas’s new charter, which I see as no more than a ‘declaration’ since it does not live up to the credibility or significance required of charters, obviously includes between its lines hidden intentions and objectives.
14 May 2017