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  April 6, 2017

Will Hamas Party Charter Accept a Two State Solution?

The leaked Hamas charter suggests a willingness to accept a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict says Imad Alsoos,
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SHIR HEVER: Welcome to The Real News, I'm Shir Hever in Heidelberg, Germany.

The television channel, Al-Mayadeen, in Lebanon, which is associated with the Hezbollah Party, has published a leaked draft of the new Charter of the Hamas Party. Hamas is a Palestinian political party, as well as an armed organization, which was founded in the 1980s to resist the Israeli occupation; combining guerilla warfare with histonic(?) values. Its name in Arabic is, Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya, meaning movement of Islamic resistance.

The Hamas party has been associated with the Muslim Brotherhood, which also had branches in other countries in the '80s. The founding charter of Hamas was written in 1988, and is highly controversial. It sets out, not only to fight the state of Israel as an occupying power, but targets the Jews as the enemies of the movement.

According to the new draft, these things are going to be changed, and Hamas might actually agree to a Palestinian State within the 67 border, meaning within the territory that Israel conquered in 1967. There is no question that Hamas has used violence in its struggle against the Israeli occupation, including attacks against civilians. Yet there are heated political and legal debates, on how much of this violence is a legitimate form of resistance against occupation.

In 2006, the Hamas Party won the elections in the occupied Palestinian Territory, but U.S. and Israeli pressure forced the Palestinian authority to appoint an unelected Prime Minister. In 2007 Hamas had taken over the Gaza Strip by force; and in 2014, the European Union removed Hamas from the list of terror organizations.

Here to talk about the redrafting of the Hamas Charter, is Imad Alsoos. Dr. Imad Alsoos wrote his PhD at the Free University of Berlin. He's a scholar of the Hamas Party, and of Palestinian Nationalism. Thank you very much, Imad, for being here.

DR. IMAD ALSOOS: Thank you so much for having me.

SHIR HEVER: So, who in the Hamas Party decided that it is time to rewrite the Charter?

DR. IMAD ALSOOS: In fact, rewriting the Charter, it's back to the early '90s, and basically with the first head of Hamas political paro(?) Mousa Abu Marzouq; who tried to write a new charter of Hamas. But Hamas at the time agreed upon to issue a normal document, which is called the Definition and Introduction of the Movement, in which Hamas tried to avoid the religiosity of the charter.

And this debate continued up to now. In the last two or three years, there was a lot of news coming that there is internal debate inside Hamas, mainly in Gaza, in order to rewrite a new document. And basically I read about this from the major thinker about Hamas, who is called Yousef Rizga, in Gaza. And he was the only one who academically explained this position inside Hamas.

SHIR HEVER: And why are they rewriting the charter? Are they trying to appear more moderate? Are they doing this for Israel, for Europe, or for Arab countries that they're willing to accept a Palestinian state, alongside the state of Israel?

DR. IMAD ALSOOS: In fact, when I read the leaked document by Al-Mayadeen, I saw that Hamas tried to strike a balance to satisfy all the parties, regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. There is a clear message to the international community that they are fighting now the Zionist occupation, rather than the Jews.

For example, a message for Egypt, that they are no longer part of the Muslim Brotherhood, but they are a Palestinian Islamic movement, rather than as a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. At the same time, there is a message for Hamas' base that they are not going to give up any kind of Palestinian land for Israel. There is no recognition for the state of Israel. A message for Israel, the major rival in the struggle -- that they accept a two-state solution based on the '67 borders.

So, there is a strike of balance that to satisfy all the... to target all the parties, regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

SHIR HEVER: I think it's very interesting that you're mentioning Egypt. Egypt has a border of Gaza, and the current administration in Egypt is very much opposed to the Muslim Brotherhood. So, this is very interesting that Hamas is distancing themselves, and possibly creating a channel of communication with Egypt.

But why are they rewriting the Charter now? This Charter was written in 1988, almost 30 years ago. They could have changed it a long time ago, and you just said ... started to consider this already in 1990, so, when the Charter was very new. So, why have they not changed it already?

DR. IMAD ALSOOS: Of course, there are different factors to understand why Hamas want to rewrite its... or to write a new one. First of all, that Hamas, when it came to government, Hamas entered into the political game. And this new document, it's very political, while the Charter is very ideological and religious. And Hamas is no longer only a religious movement, but Hamas is a government movement, is a political movement, is a social movement, is a military movement. More than just ideological or religious movement, as it was demonstrated in the Charter.

Another important factor could be a regional factor. After the, let's say the failure, or the success of the counter-revolutions, and the coup in Egypt, the military in Egypt, it closed Hamas' major line, which is the Rafah crossing. And of course, they want to change their ideological basis in order to satisfy the Egyptian regime, in order to be able to open the border, and help them to survive their government in Gaza from collapse; economic--

SHIR HEVER: --But it is part of their new responsibilities after taking over the Gaza Strip, they have to act also as a civil administration, and not just as a military movement.

DR. IMAD ALSOOS: Of course.


DR. IMAD ALSOOS: Because Hamas now is in the political game.

SHIR HEVER: So, in the past 10 years, almost every time that there was an election in Israel, there was also an invasion of the Gaza Strip, just before the election. And indeed, now there is talk inside Israel about having an early election, so the threat of an attack on Gaza seems to increase.

And there has already been the assassination of a senior Hamas member, Mazen Faqha. Reportedly by an Israeli collaborator, but the full facts have not been released yet, in late March. So, this seems to be like a preparation for another attack on Gaza.

Do you think this is related to Hamas' decision to rewrite the Charter? And if there will be an Israeli attack on Gaza, would this now stop the process of reform?

DR. IMAD ALSOOS: I don't think that any threat from Israel has to do with this Charter, because this leaked Charter, or this leaked document, is giving a new strategy that is not decided by one war, or one year or two years. But evolution and a transformation, Hamas political discourse that took 20 years to be formed. And as observer of Hamas political discourse, this new leaked document doesn't make any difference for an expert, who is following up Hamas daily discourse day-by-day in the last 20 years.

So, it's not just decided by one action, or one year, but it's evolution of Hamas political discourse toward the Palestinian people, toward the regional countries, toward Israel and toward international community.

SHIR HEVER: Indeed. But at least on one side this new document does seem to have a great deal of impact, and that if it is indeed going to be released, that Hamas has changed their charter, it will impact Israeli propaganda.

The Israeli foreign policy which was very much based on the illegitimization [sic] of Hamas. If Hamas is now trying to act more as a political player, then the Israeli Foreign Office will have to write their policies again.

Thank you very much for speaking with us, Imad, and for your analysis.

DR. IMAD ALSOOS: I thank you so much for having me.

SHIR HEVER: And thank you for watching The Real News Network.




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