Hamas Doctrine: Detest Israel

Hamas Doctrine: Detest Israel – Part I of three parts

Hamas on opposing agreements, negotiations, or recognition of Israel

Anyone who believes that Hamas’ current fundamental beliefs are flexible enough to recognize Israel or that the organization will ultimately give up arms as a long-term political concession is simply naïve.  As it has in the past, Hamas may accept a tahdi’a or calming down of tensions, or even a temporary truce or hudna, but for it to accept Israel as a reality is totally contrary to its ideological outlook.  Discussions about cease-fires and who broke any number of them masks Hamas’s stated intentions.  “Removing occupation” for Hamas currently means Israel’s destruction, not merely withdrawal from Gaza or the West Bank or Jerusalem.

Just as al-Qaeda seeks the total destruction of western democracies, Hamas seeks Israel’s total demise.

Since its inception in 1988, Hamas has been crystal clear about its opposition to Zionism and Israel. It opposes any kind of negotiations or agreements that recognize Israel’s reality. Its more extreme spokesmen offer incendiary remarks about Jews. Hamas has opposed all agreements and cooperation which either the PLO or the Palestinian Authority have signed with Israel.  Hamas opposes any Palestinian or other Arab leader or state that recognizes Israel or Jews as a national identity. Hamas has accepted ceasefires with Israel through intermediaries in order to “buy time,” rearm and refurbish its capacity to rule, and to fight another day, but never to move toward acceptance or recognition of Israel.  Over time, key leaders like Khaled Meshal, Ismail Haniyeh, Mahmoud al-Zahhar and others have been crystal clear that neither they nor Hamas will disarm nor give up militant action. They believe that all of the land west of the Jordan River belongs to them. Hamas does not equivocate in its outlook about its vision for tomorrow; all of its horizons require Israel’s destruction.  Hamas seeks support from virtually any external source that will provide it arms, training, and funding. The first of these collection of comments, like subsequent ones is remarkable for the consistency in views expressed by Hamas leaders who remain  true to the contents stipulated in Hamas’s August 1988 Charter.

Hamas on opposing agreements, negotiations, or recognition of Israel – 

 October 1992: “…I agree with you that there is a dangerous plot under way that threatens the entire region; that is, the plot to have the Arab, Islamic fold accept the Zionists.  If, God forbid, this materializes and Arab-Israeli relations improve, as we mentioned earlier, it would engulf all aspects including the political, cultural and social spheres.  In this way Israel would be able to attain its strategic objectives of a Greater Israel without fighting.

This is an even greater danger than a military one because the economic resources of the Zionists are extremely advanced scientifically and technologically. They have vast material and specialized resources. God forbid, if by means of signing peace accords the Arabs and Israelis reach a compromise and they implement their plan for autonomy, many Arab workers will be absorbed into the Israeli factories. Arab businesses will collapse because they will not be able to compete with the Israelis’ modern industries. True peace can only be attained by returning the Palestinians to their homeland and returning the Zionist aggressors to the countries from where they have come.” Ibrahim Ghawshah, Head of Hamas in Gaza, Keyhan (Tehran), October 31, 1992.

March 1994: “Hamas believes that the new situation will be more dangerous for the Palestinians than the occupation, but through justification of the occupation through these Agreements this will create many problems for the Palestinians. What will become of the millions of Palestinians abroad and of the hundreds of thousands of deportees? What will become of our rights over Palestine? Arafat and his colleagues must answer all these questions. Hamas will continue to resist the Israelis’ presence by all means.

This is no peace process. It is an agreement between the PLO and Israel. The occupation will be more legal from the international viewpoint. Israel will be the dominant force and the center of authority in Tel Aviv, and will give us Palestinians the right to self-control. That is what autonomy means; the same as the Kurds in Iraq. The central government – the master of the land – will give self-determination to a minority national group. With the signing of this Agreement, Arafat is saying that Israel is the master of all Palestine and that it is giving us the opportunity to set up an autonomous entity. This is the most dangerous point in the Agreement signed in the so-called peace talks.” Mahmud al-Zahhar, Hamas Gaza leader, La Vanguardia (Barcelona), March 6, 1994.

September 1994: “Arafat cannot let the ill-fated Oslo Agreement’s anniversary pass without furnishing fresh evidence of his breaking ranks with our Palestinian people to join our criminal Zionist enemy’s camp at the expense of their rights and aspirations. On the first annual anniversary of the demeaning 13 September 1993 Oslo Accord, the second signing marks a new link in the chain of concessions and capitulation that builds on the giveaways yielded to the enemy in Oslo, Washington, Paris, and Cairo. These giveaways are used by the enemy as a cover for its repressive practices and coercive measures against our defenseless people and to promote its settlements and Judaization of our stolen Palestinian land and blessed sanctities. Our guileful enemy…persists in humiliating the flimsy Arafat authority and robbing it of the basic trappings of sovereignty so Arafat and his authority may remain a cheap tool to advance the Zionist objective of controlling the Arab region.

… Further, the Oslo Accord leaves Jerusalem out of even international assistance. It also fails even to refer to Israel’s settlement drive, ongoing Judaization, and the demographic and physical changes affecting Jerusalem’s Arab and Islamic identity. Arafat is confirming his insistence on pursuing the path of surrender and disregard for our people’s wishes and their categorical rejection of all concessions.

Hamas condemns the signing of the Oslo Declaration and reiterates its rejection of all the homeland-selling agreements signed with the occupying enemy. None of these agreements has any binding force on our Palestinian people or represents them in any way.” Hamas publication, al-Majd (Amman), September 19, 1994.

April 1995: “Arafat now stands at a historic, national, and religious turning point. He either continues to carry out the instructions and dictates of the Zionists – represented by Rabin, Peres, and Christopher – or returns to the moment of truth, sides with his own people, and frees himself from these pressures. The current situation is very serious and tension in the Gaza Strip has gone too far. Everybody knows that Hamas [the Islamic Resistance Movement], which is an Islamic, Arab, and Palestinian movement, is careful to direct its activities toward the Zionist occupation.  Hamas does not seek authority and does not want a piece of the pie or any position. It wants to continue its historic jihad by keeping the torch of jihad and intifadah lit continuously. Therefore, this road should not be obstructed and the youths of al-Qassam and the Hamas Movement should not be turned from carrying out their sacred mission and jihad into defending themselves against arrests, accusations, and the attempt to disarm them, as well as against what is hidden in the coming period. Hence, wise men and honest people are called on to intervene immediately to convince the Palestinian Authority to clear the road for those mujahidin to continue their long march.” Ibrahim Ghawshah, text from Amman Al-Dustur in Arabic, April 11, 1995, p. 29; quoted in Daily Report, FBIS-NESA, April 13, 1995, p. 4.

March 1996: “First, we are not concerned with the peace process. Hamas, the opposition factions, and the majority of the Palestinian people oppose this process in its current form. This process ignores all the sacrifices of the Palestinian people, relinquishes all inalienable Palestinian rights for which we have long struggled, and perpetuates the existence of the Zionist enemy on our land and soil.

The recent military operations were carried out naturally in this context. They are a continuation of the jihad and the martyrdom-seeking action irrespective of the obstacles we faced in the past. We are not dropping armed action from our options, but we were eager not to shed Palestinian blood and not to fan the flames of a civil war among the Palestinians in the self-rule areas. We, consequently, wanted to avoid problems with the Palestinian Authority [PA], which certainly represents a group of our people. We also avoided carrying out military operations in the self-rule areas because the PA claims that such operations embarrass it in front of the enemy. We held meetings with the PA in Cairo and committed ourselves not to carry out any military action during the recent elections.

Military and martyrdom action is a natural thing in our strategy and plan to liberate our land. I repeat that the peace process, the Israeli concept of it, does not concern us. The proposed peace seeks to impose hegemony over a weak, surrendered party. Perhaps Hamas would understand the peace process, but the current settlement conflicts with the most basic idea of justice.” Mustafa al-Liddawi, Hamas representative in Beirut, text from Beirut al-Nahar, March 9, 1996, p. 7; quoted in Daily Report, FBIS-NESA, March 13, 1996, pp. 23-24.

October 1996: “Our daily life is becoming increasingly worse. I have always argued that our people gained nothing through the Oslo Agreements. Before, at least our people were united, whereas now they have been divided between PLO followers, those who believe in the Islamic movements and opposition, and a third neutral group hoping to feather their nest with the illusion of peace. The National Authority’s corruption undermines all economic and social plans. Gaza is full of policemen and “mukhabarts” (secret agents). Everything is in [President] Arafat’s hands.” Dr. Mahmoud al-Zahhar, Hamas leader, as quoted in Barcelona La Vanguardia in Spanish, October 10, 1996; quoted in Daily Report, FBIS-NESA, October 10, 1996.

 February 1999: “First, the suspension of the Wye River Agreement was the result of Israeli differences over the implementation of the Agreement. It has also been due to the expansion of the circle of extremism inside the Zionist entity and facilitated the rejection of an agreement such as the Wye River Agreement, which benefits, and was essentially tailored in accordance with, Israeli interests. This certainly gives an idea of the future possibilities since the escalating extremism in the entity will not offer any hope of respecting any agreement even if it is 100 percent in favor of the Israeli interests. Second, the next five months or more after the elections and the formation of a new coalition will witness complete and real suspension of negotiations on the Palestinian track. In spite of this Zionist procrastination, the PA merely waits and watches and this certainly confirms its incapacity and that it is captive and forcibly linked to the internal Israeli political bandwagon and to US pressures. Third, regardless of which political side wins in Israel – whether the Likud, Labor, or so-called centrists – extremism would prevail.

Furthermore, the stands of the main parties on the major final status issues such as Jerusalem, the settlements, borders, refugees, and other difficult and complicated issues are similar to great extent. Thus, we conclude that it would be a kind of delusion to pin any optimism or hopes on the outcome of the Israeli elections. Instead of wasting another year of fumbling and waiting, therefore, the PA should look for new options, reconsider its rash positions on negotiations, and be biased in favor of our people and their aspirations and options.”

April 2006: “Hamas has serious reservations about the [Arab] initiative since it involves acceptance of two states, Palestine and Israel. Hamas rejects this because it means recognition of Israel.” Hamas Political Bureau Head Mousa Abu Marzouq, al-Ayyam, September 18, 2006.

May 2008: “Now more than ever I tell you – we will never recognize Israel… We will form the Palestinian state on all of Palestine’s territories and the sun of liberty will burn the Zionists. To them I say – you will lose. You will leave and we will keep hounding you. The blood of our slain sons will haunt you forever.” Remarks by Mahmoud al-Zahhar Senior Hamas leader,  May 14, 2008.

August 2010: “Independent decision-making is defended by the gun. It is formed in the battlefield, and it reflects the will of the people. As for the negotiations, they will make you subservient to the American decisions, and to Israeli pressure and threats. …There is no legitimacy to Palestinian-Israeli negotiations, whether direct or indirect. Those negotiations derive their coerced legitimacy from the Americans and the Israeli pressure. As for the Arab endorsement [of direct negotiations] it is worthless. The Arab endorsement does not bestow legitimacy upon these negotiations, because this endorsement was imposed upon the Arabs, but that does not stem from their free will.” Hamas Leader Khaled Meshal, Al-Jazeera TV, August 2, 2010; taken from MEMRI.

May 2014: “Hamas will never recognize Israel. This is a red line that cannot be crossed. We would have spared ourselves seven years of misery under the siege and two wars in 2008 and 2012 had we wanted to recognize Israel. …The al-Qassam Brigades’ weaponry is of national importance to confront the occupation. Hamas’ position in this regard is clear, and it will not allow any tampering with the brigades’ armament, under any circumstances, because it is a strategic asset for all Palestinians. In contrast, the Quartet negotiations require that violence be renounced, which, in effect, means that the al-Qassam weapons must be decommissioned. But this is unacceptable, and Hamas will reject it outright.” Remarks by Mousa Abu Marzouq,Deputy Chairman of Hamas’ Political Bureau, as posted by Adnan Abu Amer, May 5, 2014.

Note on sources:  This collection of remarks made by Hamas officials, their representatives, or spokesmen was taken from a variety of sources. Going back to the 1990s, some of the material here was translated from various languages by the US Department of Commerce’s Foreign Broadcast Information Service. Other items were collected from authoritative Arab sources; others were read on the internet.  Obviously, this list of remarks is not exhaustive, but it is representative. They are all indicative of the uncompromising beliefs and fierce ideology held by Hamas adherents.

To follow

Part II – Hamas on Israel and Israel’s illegitimacy

Part III – Hamas principles for the liberation of Palestine and Jihad against Zionism 


About the Author
Ken Stein is Professor of Contemporary Middle Eastern History and Political Science at Emory University. He is the author of Heroic Diplomacy: Sadat, Kissinger, Carter, Begin and the Quest for Arab-Israeli Peace, 1999 and with Ambassador Samuel W. Lewis, Making Peace Among Arabs and Israelis Lessons from Fifty Years of Negotiating Experience, 1991.