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The Philadelphia Jewish Voice
October 2005

Hamasí Participation in Palestinian Legislative Elections Violates Oslo Accords and Road Map to Peace

Background and Key Facts

(Israel Policy Forum) On Sept. 12, Israel ended its presence in the Gaza Strip after evacuating all of its roughly 8,500 Jewish residents. The withdrawal paved the way for the Palestinians to start on a path to a peaceful state alongside Israel. However, recent events show that the terrorist group Hamas is committed to carrying out violent acts against Israelis in Israel proper and inside the West Bank.[1]

On Jan. 25, the Palestinian Authority will hold Parliamentary elections. Although it is a violation of the Oslo Accords,[2] Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas will allow Hamas to participate. Last week, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice protested the armed groupís participation in Palestinian elections, stating, "Hamas is a terror organization and it has to be disbanded, both for the sake of peace and security in the Middle East and for the sake of the proper functioning of the Palestinian Authority."[3]

Negotiations based on the Oslo Accords led to an agreement in 1995 that stated, "The nomination of any candidates, parties or coalitions will be refused, and such nomination or registration will be canceled, if such candidates, parties or coalitions 1) commit or advocate racism, or 2) pursue the implementation of their aims by unlawful non-democratic means."[4]

Hamasí existence was the primary reason for the creation of that provision, according to Yossi Beilin, a principal architect of the Oslo Accords. Said Dr. Beilin, "In a world seeking to combat terrorism and still looking for the right way to do it, it would be surprising indeed if Israel, paradoxically, were to acquiesce in the legitimization of terrorist organization under its very noseÖ"[5]

Since Sept. 2000, Hamas has carried out thousands of terror attacks, killing 425 Israelis and wounding 2,233 others.[6] During the past 12 years, Hamas has been responsible for sending 113 suicide bombers into Israel.[7] The United States has designated Hamas a terrorist organization.[8] Additionally, it has been declared a terrorist organization by Australia, the European Union, Canada and Israel and has been condemned by the U.N. Commission on Human Rights as a racist organization.[9]

Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said Hamasí participation in the January elections pose a serious threat to Israel if the group isnít first disarmed and doesnít renounce its pledge to destroy Israel. Said Mr. Sharon, "This reality contradicts the Road Map and our understandings with the Palestinians."[10]

The groupís name is the acronym for the Arabic term Islamic Resistance Movement. It is an offshoot of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and was founded by the late Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 1987.[11] Hamas maintains numerous cells throughout the world that conduct illegal fundraising for its Palestinian branch but maintains a strict protocol of targeting Israeli civilians in Israel proper, the West Bank and, before the disengagement, Gaza.[12]

In addition, Hamas:

  • Rejects peaceful solutions to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. According to Hamas, giving up any part of the land it claims as Palestine would be tantamount to renouncing part of Islam. Hamasí charter states, "[Peace] initiatives, the so-called peaceful solutions, and the international conferences to resolve the Palestinian problem, are all contrary to the beliefs of the Islamic Resistance Movement."[13]
     
  • Is bent on Israelís destruction, as exemplified by proclamations by senior Hamas commander and terrorist mastermind, Mohammed Deif.[14]  While other groups once branded as terrorist organizations, such as the Palestinian Liberation Organization, later changed their missions to benefit their people and give themselves a place at the international table, Hamas has steadfastly refused to do so. For example, the national charter of the PLO once called for the destruction of the state of Israel. In 1998, however, Palestinian leaders agreed to nullify the offending sections of the charter.[15] The Palestinian National Authority, established in 1994 as an interim administrative ruling body of the Palestinian people, has since won recognition from Israel and the rest of the international community. The PLO wasnít the only group to make such reforms Ė as part of the Good Friday Agreement (a.k.a. Belfast Agreement) of 1998, the British required the IRA to decommission its paramilitary weaponry before it could participate in domestic politics.[16]
  • Maintains a charter that explicitly calls for the annihilation of Israel. Hamasí leader in Gaza, Mahmoud Zahar, when asked in a Sept. 2005 interview about Hamasí final goal, said, "If you ask any Palestinian or Muslim, wherever he lives - in America or in Britain or in Indonesia - he would tell you that according to the religious point of view, this land is part of the Arab and Muslim nations. This means that there is no other option but to reunify this land once again."[17] 
           
  • Aims to kill Jews at every opportunity. The late Hamas leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin said, "The purpose of every operation is to kill Jews, for by killing Jews, all the Zionist settlers and their allies will be driven from the area."[18]
  • Is commissioned by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), utilizing their emergency medical vehicles to transport Hamas terrorists. Peter Hansen, the Commissioner General of UNRWA acknowledged this, stating, "There are Hamas members on the UNRWA payroll," but added, "I donít see that as a crime."[19]
  • Provides financial incentives ranging from $1,300 to $5,300 to those who have been wounded Ė or to families of those who have been killed Ė carrying out terror attacks against Israelis.[20]
  • In Jan. 2005 boycotted the first ever Palestinian democratic presidential elections.[21] But during subsequent municipal elections, Hamas fared well at the polls, particularly in Gaza. In council elections in Jan. 2005, Hamas gained 77 of 118 seats in Gaza.[22]
  • Doesnít differentiate between Israeli military and civilian targets. In 2003 alone, Hamas conducted more than 150 attacks against Israelis.[23] Terrorist assaults included shootings, suicide bombings and standoff mortar-and-rocket attacks. Hamas was responsible for sending a suicide bomber to blow up the well-know American expatriate restaurant, Mikeís Place, situated directly next door to the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv, signifying its intent to target foreigners in Israel.[24]
  • Has, following Israelís disengagement from Gaza, actively campaigned to become the ruling political body. Thousands of fliers have been printed and distributed at mosques throughout the West Bank and Gaza listing names of Hamasí political leadership.[25] Hamas has openly said that if the PA police attempt to disarm the group, it will resist with force.[26] Hamas is attempting to actively compete with, rather than join the Palestinian Authority. A quarterly report published in June 2005 by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights states, "Hamas and others have been taking the law into their own hands and challenging the Presidentís authority."[27]
  • Openly clashed with Palestinian Authority Police forces on Oct. 2, 2005. In an attempt to disarm Hamas terrorists, Palestinian police came under fire and the Shati police station in Gaza City was burned down. Mohammed Nazel, a senior Hamas official in Damascus, threatened that Hamas would not allow PA police to remove their weapons at any cost, "Even at the price of civil war."[28]
  • Has established a unit for kidnapping Israeli civilians.[29] After kidnapping and killing an Israeli man in late Sept. 2005, Hamas warned, "The operation is just beginning."[30]
  • At times collaborates with other terrorist organizations such as Islamic Jihad and, more recently, al-Qaeda.[31] International funding of about $50 million annually provides for arms purchases, training and monetary rewards.[32] Hamas receives most of its funding and financial assistance from Iran, Syria, Palestinian expatriates around the globe and private donors from Western Europe, the Americas, Canada and the Persian Gulf.[33]
  • Isnít perceived by the Palestinian leadership as a terrorist organization; [34] is supported and maintains ties with certain PA government ministries.[35] For example, Hanan Ashrawi, a popular Palestinian figure and former cabinet minister, is quoted as saying, "Hamas is not the enemy, it is part of the political fabric."[36]
  • Refused to accept the outcome of municipal elections held on Sept. 30, 2005.  Fatah, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbasí political party, won in 51 of 104 districts; Hamas succeeded in 13 and accused the Palestinian Election Committee of falsifying results.[37]

*                           *                           *

The IsraelProject is a new international non-profit organization devoted to educating the press and the public about Israelwhile promoting security, freedom and peace. It was started by three mothers who became concerned that negative images about Israelin the media were endangering the future of children who want to live in a world free of the sorts of anti-Semitism faced by generations before them. The IsraelProject provides journalists, leaders and opinion-makers accurate information about Israel.

Board of Advisors: Senator Evan Bayh (IN), Senator Saxby Chambliss (GA), Senator Norm Coleman (MN), Senator Ben Nelson (NB), Senator Rick Santorum (PA), Senator Arlen Specter (PA), Senator Ron Wyden (OR), Congressman Rob Andrews (NJ), Congresswoman Shelley Berkley (NV), Congressman Tom Davis (VA), Congressman Eliot Engel (NY), Congressman Frank Pallone (NJ), Congressman Jon Porter (NV), Congressman Jim Saxton (NJ), Congressman Brad Sherman (CA), Congressman Joe Wilson (SC), Actor and Director Ron Silver


[1] Herzog, Michael, "A Wind in Hamasís Sails: Palestinian Militants Gather Post-Disengagement Momentum," PeaceWatch No. 516, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Sept. 13, 2005

[2] The Israeli Palestinian Interim Agreement http://www.mideastweb.org/intanx2.htm or http://mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00qc0

[3] Benn, Aluf, "Rice: Hamas must disarm before entering Palestinian politics," Haaretz, Oct. 2, 2005, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/631395.html

[4]The Israeli Palestinian Interim Agreement http://www.mideastweb.org/intanx2.htmor http://mfa.gov.il/mfa/go.asp?MFAH00qc0

[5] Beilin, Yossi, "An Israeli View:  Recognizing Hamas is irresponsible," Bitterlemons.org, Sept. 26, 2005, http://www.bitterlemons.org/issue/isr2.php

[6] Israel Embassy Briefing, Sept. 23, 2005

[7] Abrams, Max, "A Moment Lost; The chances for Mideastpeace remain elusive as long as Arab rejectionists use terrorism," Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2004

[8] Country Reports on Terrorism, Chapter 6, Terrorist Groups, Title 22, Section 2656f, April 27, 2005, http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/45394.htm

[9] U.N. Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, 66th session, 1683rd meeting, Feb. 28, 2005, http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/898586b1dc7b4043c1256a450044f331/327f813ccde22c2dc1256fc000397f77/$FILE/G0540585.doc.

[10] Bahur-Nir, Diana, "Sharon: Ball in Palestinian Court," YnetNews (Yediot Aharonot online edition), Oct. 2, 2005, http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3150234,00.html

[11] Sheikh Yassin: Spiritual Figurehead, BBC, March 22, 2004, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/in_depth/middle_east/2001/israel_and_the_palestinians/profiles/1695470.stm

[12]   Globalsecurity.org, "Military: HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement)," http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hamas.htm 

[13] "Article Thirteen: Peaceful Solutions, [Peace] Initiatives and International Conferences," Selected Documents Regarding Palestine: Hamas Charter (1988), Palestine Center, http://www.palestinecenter.org/cpap/documents/charter.html

[14] Associated Press, "Hamas bomber calls for Israelís destruction," Canadian TV, Aug. 27, 2005, http://www.ctv.ca.servlet/ArticleNews/CTVNews/20050827/

[15] Katz, Lee Michael, "To Israel, charter passages 'advocate violence and terror,í" USA Today, Dec. 14, 1998

[16] "Armed is Dangerous: The IRA Should See That its Time is Past," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Oct. 17, 2002

[17]Berman, Yaniv, "Exclusive Interview with Hamas Leader," The Media Line, Sept. 22, 2005, http://www.themedialine.org/news/news_detail.asp?NewsID=11354

[18] CBC News, "In Depth: Middle East: Sheik Ahmed Yassin," CBC News Online, March 23, 2004, http://www.cbc.ca/news/background/middleeast/yassin.html

[19] Globalsecurity.org, "Military: HAMAS," June 7, 2005, http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hamas.htm

[20]"Erased In A Moment: Suicide Bombing Attacks Against Israeli Civilians," Special report by Human Rights Watch, Nov. 1, 2002, http://www.hrw.org/reports/2002/isrl-pa/ISRAELPA1002-06.htm

[21]Council on Foreign Relations, "Terrorism Q & A: Hamas, Islamic Jihad (Palestinian Islamists)," http://cfrterrorism.org/groups/hamas 

[22]Ibid.

[23]U.S. Department of State, "Patterns of Global Terrorism 2003,"Released by the Office of the Coordinator for Counterterrorism, April 29, 2004, http://www.state.gov/s/ct/rls/pgtrpt/2003/31638.htm 

[24]Ibid.

[25]Associated Press, "Hamasís secretive military branch reveals its structure, Details attacks in bid to get credit for Gaza pullout," The Boston Globe, September 4, 2005, http://www.boston.com/news/world/middleeast/articles/ 2005/09/04/hamass_sectretive_military_branch 

[26]Ibid.

[27] Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, "Quarterly Reports for Field Offices: Arab Region," June 2005, p.8.

[28] Regular, Arnon, "Three dead as Hamas members and Palestinian Authority forces clash in Gaza," Haaretz, Oct. 4, 2005, http://www.haartezdaily.com/hasen/spages/631746.html

[29] Haaretz Service and News Agencies, "Abbas to visit Washingtonnext month to discuss peace process," Haaretz,  Sept. 28, 2005 http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/ShArtVty.jhtml?sw=abbas+to+visit+washington&itemNo=630348

[30]Harel, Amos and Regular, Arnon, "West Bank Hamas plans new attacks in spite of Ďlullí," Haaretz, Sept. 28, 2005, http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/630031.html

[31] Globalsecurity.org, "Military: HAMAS (Islamic Resistance Movement," http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hamas.htm 

[32] Globalsecurity.org, "HAMAS funding," http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/para/hamas-funds.htm

[33]U.S. Navy, "Terrorist group profiles: Hamas," May 11, 2005, http://library.nps.navy.mil/home/tgp.hamas.htm 

[34] Intelligence & Terrorism Information Center, "The Palestinian Authorityís support for Hamasí suicide terrorism," Oct. 2004, http://www.intelligence.org.il/eng/sib/10_04/oct_02.htm

[35] Levitt, Mathew, "Palestinian Authority Minister of Economy tied to Hamas?" PeaceWatch No. 496, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, March 4, 2005, http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/templateC05.php?CID=2269 

[36] Lerner, Joseph, "Fighting terrorism," The Jerusalem Post, July 25, 1995, p.6.

[37] Associated Press, "Hamas says election results distorted," Al-Jazeera.net, Oct. 1, 2005, http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/1268D6FA-DEDA-468F-BD42-9151B3051D64.htm