Hamas softens stance on Palestinian border with policy change

A Palestinian man mocks Israeli border guards at a border wall separating Palestine and Israel.                 Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

On Monday, May 1, the Islamic Resistance Movement, Hamas, released a document stating that the group is willing to accept a Palestinian state under the 1967 borders while, at the same time, refusing to recognize Israel as a nation.

In Doha, Qatar, Chairman of Hamas’ Political Bureau Khalid Meshaal gave a statement explaining the specifics of the document, as well as what it potentially means for Hamas. Meshaal reaffirmed that “Hamas rejects any idea except liberating the home soil entirely and completely.” However, in the document that Hamas released it states that they are willing to accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders as long as Jerusalem is its capital and Palestinian refugees have the right to return.

The 1967 borders refers to the green line that was established before the Six-Day War of 1967 with the intention of separating Israel and Palestine into their own sovereign nations. Jerusalem was split up into East Jerusalem for the Palestinians and West Jerusalem for the Israelis. After the Six-Day War, Israel took over East Jerusalem and has since built a border wall that separates Israel from the West Bank. Parts of the wall encroach on Palestinian land which has led to international debate and condemnation by the United Nations Court of Justice.

In the document, it states that “Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine,” citing historical and religious precedent as justification. It also states that all Palestinian refugees that were displaced in the 1948 and 1967 conflicts have a right to return to their homes no matter where they are located. Later on, it explicitly states that Hamas’ conflict “is with the Zionist project not with the Jews.” They also state that “Hamas rejects the persecution of any human being (or) the undermining of his or her rights on the nationalist, religious or sectarian grounds.”

Hamas also explains that they are not “compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity,” but they are willing to accept a Palestinian state within the June 4, 1967 borders. However, Hamas states that the Oslo Accords “violate the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people.”

Lastly, the document states that “resisting the occupation with all means and methods is a legitimate right” and “at the heart of these is armed resistance.”

Both Hamas and the Israeli government did not respond when asked for comment.

Jonathan Deutsch, an Israeli citizen living in Jerusalem, expressed skepticism in a phone interview, about Hamas’ intentions. “It’s really hard for me to believe that they are genuine because all the time shit goes down here (Israel). Like it is very hard to believe that they are honestly trying to make peace,” he explained, “Maybe they’re finally giving into the fact that, maybe, the only way that they will have a state is if they accept the ‘67 borders and that is another possibility.”

Similarly, Alladin Amouri, a Palestinian-American living in Jerusalem, stated in a phone interview translated from Arabic, “Hamas and Fatah are politicians and the document accepting the ‘67 borders is meant to please the people and avoid war … all of them adapt to the situation.”

At UCR, a fourth-year Chinese major, who asked to be kept anonymous, said, in an email interview, “I believe Hamas is changing, but everything else is changing too due to the phenomenon of social media several years ago and this changes how we see ourselves and how people can now use the internet to broadcast themselves, similar to how the youth utilized Facebook and Twitter during Arab Spring in 2011.”

 

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