Jannus TH Siahaan

Delegitimizing Hamas is Key

Even though there is massive resistance in many countries, Israel’s invasion and attacks on Gaza are quite difficult to stop. The problem lies with Hamas. Stopping attacks on Gaza means giving Hamas a break to breathe, then reorganizing the next rocket attack on Israel.

This view is not only held by the government in power in Tel Aviv, but is also believed by Joe Biden, the president of United States. In his editorial opinion in the Washington Post on November 18, 2023, Biden gave support to Israel in destroying Hamas’ power from its roots.

According to Biden, there will be no peace in Gaza and in Israel if Hamas is still in power in Gaza, because Hamas will always delegitimize all steps taken by Israel and US in fighting for a two-state solution.

For Hamas, like Iran, Israel should not exist. If there is peace, then the Palestinian territory must be as it was before 1967, which is actually no longer possible. This view is what makes two states solution never possible

This means that the Arab countries gathered in the Arab League and the organization of Muslim countries are not only demanding a ceasefire, but are also looking for ways so that Hamas’ existence can be equally delegitimized, then give a big role to the Palestinian authority to start leading Gaza and the West Bank, as an initial path for the realization of a two-state solution

Biden’s view is also a subtle rejection by the White House of the recent request from Muslim countries represented by the President of Indonesia to force Israel to carry out a ceasefire. Biden views that the current ceasefire will only be a temporary solution until Hamas has the energy to carry out another attack.

However, there are still similarities in views between Biden and Arab countries and other Muslim countries, especially regarding a two-state solution in ending the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This shared view must become a common basis between the Arab world and Muslim countries in looking at the future of Palestine

This similarity in views must also be the starting point in interpreting Hamas’ position among Arab countries and Muslim countries. The real fundamental difference is in this part. As long as Arab countries and Muslim countries like Indonesia continue to tolerate Hamas’s version of the anti-Israel line, then as long as the conflict will continue.

Western countries, namely the European Union and United States, as well as Israel, have labeled Hamas with terrorist status. So, whatever action Hamas takes in the name of the struggle for Palestinian independence will end in a terrorist attack. So the West and Israel see the consequences and forms of Hamas’ actions, while countries that tolerate Hamas actually see the motives behind Hamas’ actions.

In other words, most Arab and Muslim countries tolerate Hamas because they are considered part of the legitimate struggle of the Palestinian people in achieving an independent Palestinian state. As a result, aspirations to paralyze Hamas did not appear in meetings between Arab countries and Muslim countries.

Moreover, now Iran, Syria, Qatar have become closer to Arab countries, such as Saudi Arabia and the UAE. This condition will make it increasingly difficult for the Arab League and Muslim countries to agree on a new definition of the existence of Hamas. Saudi Arabia and the UAE will avoid the topic of Hamas in their talks with Iran and Syria, as it would potentially damage the prospects for improving diplomatic relations between Arab countries and Iran and Syria

And what is even more worrying is that Hamas is increasingly successful in establishing itself as a proxy in the constellation of geopolitical conflicts and international strategic tensions. In a broader realm, Hamas receives support, both directly and indirectly, from non-Arab countries that have a position opposite to United States, such as Russia and China.

Unfortunately, these two big countries are becoming new strategic partners for the Middle East, especially Saudi Arabia, since Donald Trump is no longer in the White House. The Biden administration’s diplomatic tendency to be very critical of Riyath means MBS has to look for other more reliable strategic and geopolitical partners. These strategic partners are Russia and China.

What does it mean? This means that peace between Israel and Palestine can only be achieved if the big countries that are geopolitically hostile at the global level reach an agreement regarding the existence of Hamas. If Russia and China can change their perspective on Hamas, then Russia and China will try to approach other Arab countries to have the same view on the one hand and will encourage Iran to reduce its contribution to Hamas.

But it’s only beautiful on paper. The problem is that relations between United States and Russia is already difficult to repair. US’s active involvement in Ukraine makes Russia feel it must also be actively involved in Palestine by supporting Hamas and similar organizations.

Likewise with China. The increasingly heated tensions between US and China, both related to military matters in the Asia Pacific and the struggle for economic dominance in Asia, will make it increasingly difficult for US to join China in one boat in resolving the Hamas problem in Palestine.

So in short, Hamas is enjoying a very crucial position in the world geopolitical constellation on the one hand and in the technical constellation of the Israel-Hamas war on the other hand.

Because technically, Hamas, which is taking refuge in the midst of Gaza’s civil society, makes all forms of Israeli attacks on Gaza a double-edged weapon, because it will certainly continue to cause civilian casualties.

The more Israel increases attacks to weaken Hamas, the more civilian casualties will occur. The risk is that there will certainly be an even greater wave of world rejection and hatred towards Israel. And politically, this would be an extraordinary victory for Hamas, even though on a technical level Hamas is being heavily beaten by Israel.

About the Author
Doctor of Sociology from Padjadjaran University, Indonesia. Defense and Environment Observer.