‘Hudna:’ Neither a truce nor cease fire

As a torrent of Gaza aerial attacks hit southern Israel, the Gaza regime offers an occasional hudna  to stop firing, a term  which is too often misconstrued to mean a “truce” or a “cease fire.”

However, a hudna connotes no more than a temporary respite and does not remotely resemble either a “truce” nor a “cease fire.”

Here, then, are the four terms now in use:

• Hudna: a tactical pause intended only for rearmament,

• Tahida: a temporary halt in hostile activity which can be violated at any time

• Hudaybiyyah: No fighting for 10 years: invoking after the “treaty of Hudaybiyyah” in 628 AD

•  Sulch: a total cessation of hostile activity

The reality is that a hudna, tahida or hudaybiyyah do not compare to the mu’ahada treaty of peace that Egypt signed with Israel in 1979, or the mu’ahada treaty of peace that Jordan signed with Israel in 1994.

The authoritative Islamic Encyclopedia (London, 1922) defines “hudna” as a “temporary treaty” which can be approved or abrogated by Islamic religious leaders, depending on whether or not it serves the interests of Islam, and that a “hudna” cannot last for more than 10 years.

That Islamic Encyclopedia mentions the Hudaybia treaty as the ultimate “hudna.”

Arafat also referred to a hudna in his speeches when he would refer to the Oslo accords. In the words of the Islamic Encyclopedia:

The Hudaybia treaty, concluded by the Prophet Muhammed with the unbelievers of Mecca in 628, provided a precedent for subsequent treaties which the Prophet’s successors made with non-Muslims. Muhammed made a hudna with a tribe of Jews back then to give him time to grow his forces, then broke the treaty and wiped them out. Although this treaty was violated within three years from the time that it was concluded, most jurists concur that the maximum period of peace with the enemy should not exceed ten years since it was originally agreed that the Hudaybia treaty should last ten years.

The time has come to ask the media to note which terms are used in Arabic.

A truce was achieved at the end of World War I, on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month of 1918.

A hudna, tahida or hudaybiyyah would not have ended the hostilities in World War I or in any war.

About the Author
David Bedein, who grew up in Philadelphia and moved to Israel in 1970 at the age of 20, is an MSW community organizer by profession and an expereinced investigative journalist. In 1987 he established the Israel Resource News Agency, with offices at the Beit Agron Int’l Press Center in Jerusalem, where he also serves as Director of the Center for Near East Policy Research. In 1991, Bedein was the special CNN middle east radio correspondent. Since 2001, Bedein has contributed features to the newspaper Makor Rishon. In 2006, Bedein became the foreign correspondent for the Philadelphia Bulletin, writing 1,062 articles until the newspaper ceased operation in 2010. He is the author of " The Genesis of the Palestinian Authority" and "ROADBLOCK TO PEACE- How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA policies reconsidered"and the director and producer of the numerous short films about UNRWA policy which can be located at: http://tinyurl.com/lxc6xvs