Elliott Abrams

Pressure Points

Abrams gives his take on U.S. foreign policy, with special focus on the Middle East and democracy and human rights issues.

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What Does Hamas Want?

by Elliott Abrams
December 9, 2012


Frequently I have found that when I mention the odious Hamas “Charter” as the best insight into the group’s current goals, the response is that the Charter is nearly 25 years old and doesn’t mean much nowadays.

In that context the words of Hamas’s two top leaders in the past few weeks deserve attention.

On November 26, Mahmoud al-Zahhar (a Hamas co-founder and influential leader) said this “Anyone who wants to liberate Palestine by complaining [to the International Criminal Court] – I will send him handkerchiefs to wipe his tears. Whoever wants to really liberate Palestine should pick up a gun.”

Khaled Meshal is the top political leader of Hamas, and entered Gaza for the first time this weekend. Here are some of his remarks to a mass rally celebrating Hamas’s 25th anniversary:

Palestine, from the river to the sea, from north to south, is our land. Not an inch of it can be conceded. We cannot recognize the legitimacy of Israel’s occupation of Palestine. There is no legitimacy to occupation, and therefore no legitimacy for Israel, no matter how long it will take. Liberating Palestine, all of Palestine, is a duty, a right and a goal….we will liberate [Jerusalem] inch by inch, stone by stone, Islamic and Christian holy places. Israel has no right in Jerusalem….

As to the recent UN vote giving “Palestine” the status of “non-member state,” Meshal said:

Liberation first, then the state. The real state is the product of liberation, not the product of negotiations. Holy war and armed resistance are the real and right path to liberation and recovery of rights.

All these remarks suggest that the mentality that produced the Charter, a venomous anti-Semitic document that makes compromise impossible, remains dominant. For that reason, I wonder why anyone who seeks peace would promote reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas and seek to bring Hamas into the governing of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority. Given Hamas’s goals, such a role for the terrorist group would make Israeli-Palestinian cooperation impossible–not just peace negotiations but the day to day cooperation that exists with respect to the West Bank.

The words of Meshal and al-Zahhar are also a reminder of why Hamas persists, year after year, in firing rockets, mortars, and missiles at civilian targets in Israel. Hamas commits terrorist acts because it is wedded to violence and terror, and believes them fully justified in pursuing its goal of driving the Jews out of what they call “Israel” and Hamas calls “Palestine.” Meshal’s claim that “not an inch of it can be conceded” and Al-Zahhar’s urging to “pick up a gun” demonstrate yet again what Hamas wants and how it plans to get there.

Post a Comment 11 Comments

  • Posted by Dean Smallwood

    After years and years of this foolishness , I think many in the West are experiencing “Stockholm Syndrome” .

  • Posted by Kashmir

    The first mistake was not launching a ground campaign to eviscerate Hamas, when the opportunity presented itself. The second mistake was not to target the Hamas leadership during the last week. The Arabs will never take Israeli deterrence seriously if it proceedes along the western high moral ground. Wrong tactic. Wrong neighborhood. Hezbollah and Iran are closely watching this exchange with Hamas. Is this the message you want to send to your enemies. A weak response invites further confrontation. In order to avoid further bloodshed you must indeed shock the enemy with violence such that the threat is eliminated. Allowing Hamas parades in Gaza is inviting further bloodshed. Where is Ariel Sharon when you need him?

  • Posted by Amir

    Remember there are Palestinian Christians also fighting against Israel. This is bigger than anti-Semitism this is about an area of land that the british decided would be a perfect place to put thousands of people… “im sure this won’t cause any problem in the next 60 years” If Israel keeps fighting violence with violence then it is no different from Syria’s government. Israel has not been non-violent in any sense of the word. if anything this article simply points out that they are not being violent enough. Since Israel has been fighting violence with more violence and nothing has changed… maybe it is better for them to pursue peaceful negotiations.

  • Posted by Rashmee Roshan Lall

    To the two quotes from Mahmoud al-Zahhar and Khaled Meshal, I would venture to add this gem from Benjamin Netanyahu:
    “We can see half of Palestinian society overtaken by radical Islamists supported by Iran, and the other half is moving away from peace with unilateral resolutions at the U.N….(the UN vote showed that) “the Palestinians want a Palestinian state without peace…there’s no value to making agreements for peace, because when the other side violates it, nobody will hold them accountable…That is the root cause of the conflict: the unwillingness to make peace with Israel in any borders. … I would make peace in a heartbeat with Abu Mazen if he wanted peace, but he went to the UN. His speech in the U.N. was not the speech of a man who wants peace. It was terrible incitement, full of venom. It wasn’t the way that a leader speaks to his people preparing them for peace.”

    What does the Netanyahu mean when he talks of half of Palestinian society having been taken over by radical Islamists (ie , Hamas, which preaches violence) and the other half is pushing resolutions at the UN (Abbas’ faction, Fatah, which has embraced nonviolence). He means that he sees no difference between the two and Palestinians who propose “unilateral resolutions” at the UN are like those who launch missiles – both are “moving away from peace.”

  • Posted by Rush to Judgment

    Rashmee – when was that quote made and where. Then get back to me on when and where the Hamas quote was made.

  • Posted by Rush to Judgment

    Thanks for providing that info, Rashmee.

  • Posted by Dan

    What Does Elliot Abrams Want? More tooth fairy diplomacy leading to more war, or for Israel and its “friends” to get over the two-state delusion and move on from there?

  • Posted by Knights Templar

    Well its pretty obvious what they (Hamas) want. A one state solution achieved through Resistance. Its pretty much what the Zionists want too albeit through War. A 2 state solution is clearly not in either side’s interest. So its upto the Zionists face the might of Iran and Hezbollah which is precisely what they dont want to do. Mea Culpa is just round the corner.

  • Posted by ibrahim

    All of u know better how Israel birth? With fight, with gun not with negotiation. Same thing done by Hamas. They well know that Israel will never serious to any Palestinian statehood. This shown by occupation of Palestinian land and building settler complexes on it. When Israel want peace with negotiation, then show seriousness and end the blocked of GAZa.

  • Posted by International Experience

    To Ibrahim: It was not Israel that started war in 1948! It was 5 Arabic armies, thinking it was an easy game against the existing jewish population and unarmed immigrants coming into Palestine (Name given to the area by the British after First WW, 1918). Before 1948 the Arabs, Jews, Christians, Armenians and a few other minorities had lived together for centuries in this area, a province of The Ottoman Empire for 400+ years and so on back in history. The only prior countries in the area were jewish. King David and King Salomon, if you have read the history of the area. Without the 1948 war,the Jews and Arabs could have developed the area peacefully together, now for 64 years. Wishful thinking? Yes, with Hamas around!

  • Posted by Aidan

    Israel is the real terrorist organization here. They are the ones murdering, and they are the ones who keep initiating violence.

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