In January of 2006, Hamas, which is designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union (EU), won a majority of seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council. This alarming development led to the resignation of Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Ahmed Qurai (Abu Ala) and his cabinet, while Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen), elected previously in a presidential election, has remained in office. Hamas effectively has gained control over the levers of power in the PA, and can be expected to play a dominant role in forming the next government.
Hamas is unequivocally committed to the destruction of the State of Israel. According to the preamble of Hamas’ Charter, “Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it.” Hamas also is blatantly anti-Semitic. According to Article 28 of the Charter, “Israel, Judaism and Jews challenge Islam and the Muslim people. ‘May the cowards never sleep.’” The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, the discredited forgery supposedly describing an international Jewish conspiracy, is cited approvingly in Article 32.
For almost twenty years, Hamas has engaged in brutal acts of violence, targeting Israelis, Americans and many others. Hundreds have been murdered in suicide bombings, which often are directed against families and children riding on public buses, eating in restaurants or standing on line at a theater or discothèque.
Hamas also has nurtured a culture of hatred for Israel, Jews and Americans in their mosques, schools and the media. Such hatred is prevalent in PLO-run institutions as well.
Hamas may alter its tactics in the period ahead in an effort to prevent its isolation from the international community. Such actions might include speaking to the West in somewhat moderate terms while continuing to promulgate its rejectionist, hate-filled rhetoric internally, and refraining from acts of violence while continuing to rearm with more deadly weapons and supporting terrorism by other parties, such as Islamic Jihad and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades. Some Hamas leaders have already floated the idea of a long term Hudna, or tactical cease-fire. Absent the type of significant concrete changes discussed below, this must be understood as a temporary maneuver that is inconsistent with their often repeated support for violence and terror as a means to achieve their long term goal of annihilating Israel and establishing an Islamist state in its place.
Israel, the United States, and the European Union have pledged that they will not deal with Hamas, nor will they provide economic assistance to a Palestinian Authority run by Hamas, unless and until the organization is prepared to make fundamental changes. These changes include: permanently renouncing terrorism, unequivocally recognizing Israel’s right to exist as part of a two-state solution, and accepting past commitments made by the PLO and Israel — including the commitment to dismantle the terrorist infrastructure as spelled out in the Quartet’s Road Map and other agreements.
Iran — whose President has called for Israel to be wiped off the map and regularly challenges the historical authenticity of the Holocaust — has been a primary supporter of terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas and should be condemned in the strongest possible terms. Efforts to increase the level of Iranian support can be expected to increase in the period ahead as funding for the PA from the Europeans and others is eliminated or greatly reduced.
While opposing assistance to a Hamas-led PA, the international community has indicated that transparent and closely monitored international assistance programs directly provided to the Palestinian people to meet their basic humanitarian needs should be continued.
JCPA believes that:
- Unless and until Hamas unambiguously makes the necessary fundamental changes, including recognizing Israel’s right to exist in peace and security as a Jewish state, it is critically important that the U.S., the EU and the international community maintain a policy of not dealing with or providing assistance to a PA that is run by Hamas representatives or whose policies are guided by Hamas. Any softening of this policy would be detrimental to the search for peace, to stability in the Middle East, and to the global war against terror;
- Basic humanitarian assistance, such as food and medicine, should be continued to the Palestinian population, but not through Hamas or through a Hamas-controlled Palestinian Authority. As recognized by the U.S. and EU, Hamas’ human and social service institutions cannot be separated from its political/ terrorist apparatus; and that,
- Efforts should be made by the international community to minimize the capability of Iran to use its relationship with Hamas to gain greater influence over the Palestinian people.
JCPA member agencies are encouraged to:
- Advocate for the aforementioned positions and messages to decision-makers and opinion-molders in the general community, to the administration and Congress, to the European Union and the international community at large; and,
- Convey their own commitment to these principles to the Jewish community and to Israeli leaders.