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Peace in Palestine?

How has Hamas changed its policy towards Israel?

In its new policy document, Hamas has indicated that it is willing to make some concessions towards Israel. The document states clearly that it is not waging a battle against the Jewish people but it is against the state of Israel and wants a “fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital along the lines of 4th of June 1967”. This aim of establishing a new Palestinian state along the lines of the pre-1967 border indicates a willingness to adjust to the new regional reality.

Is Hamas distancing itself from the Muslim Brotherhood?

The new charter abandons past references of the movement’s association with the Muslim Brotherhood. Closely linked to the pan-Islamist movement when it was formed in the late 1980s, Hamas has moved away from the Brotherhood ever since the Mohamed Morsi regime was ousted in Egypt. Hamas, which rules the Gaza strip that has been blockaded by Israel, is totally dependent on Egypt for access to the outside world. And Egypt is now ruled by a regime that has declared an open war on the Brotherhood. Besides, Saudi Arabia, a benefactor of Hamas, is ideologically opposed to the Brotherhood. So keeping a distance from the Brotherhood could help Hamas cultivate better ties with both Cairo and Riyadh.

So what is the core agenda of Hamas?

At the core of Hamas’s agenda is liberation of the Palestinians, and a return of all displaced people to a sovereign Palestinian state. However, it is obvious that Hamas does not want to give up on any of its core agenda items like religion, nationality and ethno-linguistic identity.

Does that mean a fundamental shift?

This is not yet clear as it demands fulfilment of all other conditions such as the return of all people who were displaced by the establishment of Israel in 1948. What is particularly problematic is that Hamas has rejected all agreements, including the Oslo accords, that tried to normalise ties with Israel, without quite spelling out what sort of negotiations it would prefer. Its rejection of past peace efforts is also a sign that Hamas cannot attain change just by publishing a new agenda document.

So, is the issue of Jerusalem now secondary?

On the contrary, Hamas has maintained a tough position on Jerusalem and has in fact extended its claim not just to the Old Jerusalem but also to its “surroundings”. A Palestinian state will have to be built around Old Jerusalem according to this new vision document.

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Printable version | Jan 17, 2022 12:02:19 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/opinion/columns/peace-in-palestine/article18420560.ece

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