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New edition, collated and edited by Philo Kurds, Turks and Arabs. Helsinki, pp. Blind soft cover. Diplomatic Alternatives in the Middle East. Princeton University Press, Princeton , , Obr. Common Courage Pr how our covert wars have created enemies across the Middle East and brought terror to Thesis Utrecht University. Suggestions for travellers in the Near and Middle East.

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Niet gevonden wat u zocht? Sla laatste zoekopdracht op. Want to Read Currently Reading Read. Other editions. Enlarge cover. Error rating book. Refresh and try again. Open Preview See a Problem? Details if other :. Thanks for telling us about the problem. Return to Book Page. Hamas is best-known to outsiders as a military organisation. Its political wing has received less attention, and it is often assumed that the schools, hospitals and universities it runs are merely instruments for the dissemination of a jihadist ideology.

Following its surprise victory in the Palestinian elections, it is more important than ever to understand its pol Hamas is best-known to outsiders as a military organisation. Following its surprise victory in the Palestinian elections, it is more important than ever to understand its politics. How serious is its commitment to democracy? Did people vote for Hamas in spite of or because of its Islamic agenda?

Drawing on extensive fieldwork in Gaza, Michael Irving Jensen addresses these questions, and offers the first multidimensional portrait of this complex organisation. Based on interviews with the leadership, the rank-and-file, and ordinary Palestinians, Jensen shows how Hamas's officially stated goals relate to the social and political realities of the West Bank and Gaza.

In doing so he lays the groundwork for a more accurate way of understanding the organisation, and the direction in which its war with Israel is travelling. Get A Copy. By fundamentally opposing the PA over the nature of the future Palestinian state secular or Islamic , the shape of that state two-state or all of Palestine , and the means to the creation of that state negotiation with Israel or jihad see Abu-Amr, : 29—30 , it is clear that the PLO and the Islamists are offering the Palestinian people two contrasting visions of the future.

As a result, it is obvious that one of the principal aims sought in the declaration of its Charter was to allow Hamas to present itself as a clear alternative to the current hegemonic position of the PLO within Palestinian society, especially in terms of the continuing struggle against Israeli occupation Abu-Amr, : 13; see also Frisch, : In September , Hamas crystallized its opposition to the PLO by fronting a ten-faction group of parties opposed to continued Palestinian participation in the Madrid peace talks.

Yet, on the other hand, Hamas is also viewed as a legitimate alternative to the PLO for those Palestinians who accept its declarations regarding the need to change the current political, economic and social structure within Palestinian society itself and, in the process, replace the current indigenous hegemon in the occupied territories, the PLO Ahmad, : In fact, the Islamists, especially Hamas , have gone to great lengths to argue that only they — as opposed to other radical factions within the Palestinian movement such as the PFLP and the DFLP — have remained a truly independent Palestinian force Kodmani-Darwish, : The importance of such assertions of independence cannot be overestimated when assessing its self-professed role as the only genuine counter-force to the PLO.

In effect, this statement summarizes the belief held by many members of Hamas that only it can provide a truly separate and independent alternative to the PLO and its hegemonic position within Palestinian society. While the signing of the Oslo Accords in September clearly forced Hamas to embark upon a decidedly more pragmatic approach, it has continued to follow a strategy that accentuates its fundamental nature as an alternative to the PLO.

Hamas still refuses to recognize the sole representative status of the PLO i. It follows that the stake has become a struggle for power between two competing claims of legitimacy: that of the PLO, acquired through 25 years of armed struggle, and an Islamic movement that claims that same legitimacy in the name of its present resistance in the territories, the only means it sees as opposed to peaceful settlement to force Israel to evacuate the territories. Kodmani-Darwish, : In the view of most members of Hamas , the Oslo Accords offer little hope of a fair and just peace for the Palestinians and their national aspirations.

In fact, to many within Hamas , Oslo is less a peace process than a security pact between the PA, Israel and the United States, with the ultimate aim of obliterating their movement. While fundamental divisions still exist within the leadership of Hamas over questions of strategy and ideology see below , it is unequivocal in its damnation of the whole Oslo process. Public opinion surveys and various elections conducted for student unions, professional syndicates, and the chambers of commerce exhibit a clear pattern in growth for Hamas.

At those times when the lack of significant progress in the peace negotiations has led to increased feeling of disenchantment and hopelessness among the Palestinian people, many Palestinians have demonstrated a greater readiness to back the Islamic cause. Within two years of the outbreak of the intifada , Hamas achieved some spectacular gains in terms of its support within Palestinian society. According to Litvak:. Furthermore, the strike at the Hamas organisational infrastructure, mainly at welfare and religious institutions, was perceived in the territories as an attack upon Islam itself, rallying many around the Movement.

Litvak, : According to actual public support received throughout this period — , Hamas had come to represent a legitimate threat as a national alternative to the mainstream PLO. In terms of pure public opinion and by some estimates, support for Hamas as much as tripled during this time. While this zenith of support may have just indicated an upsurge in sympathy for Hamas in the aftermath of the mass deportations, even by February , Hamas was still estimated to be enjoying the backing of approximately 30—40 per cent of the population in the Gaza Strip and 20— 5 per cent in the West Bank The Economist , 20 February However, according to Elie Rekhess, the PLO defeat in Ramallah was not an aberration but instead represented a systematic pattern of increased Islamic support that had been occurring ever since the PLO had entered the Madrid peace talks.

To demonstrate the degree to which the Islamic Bloc was gaining in terms of its popular support, in the fall of , Mahmoud al-Zahhar examined more than twenty election campaigns conducted in the territories during — According to Al-Zahhar, 34, Palestinians voted in these elections, with the Islamist candidates winning 43 per cent of the overall votes.

Middle East Politics

That figure further declined to 10 per cent in the former stronghold of Gaza after Hamas decided to boycott the Palestinian General Elections in January Conversely, it is not surprising that the corresponding support for both Yasser Arafat and the overall peace process continued to increase over the same period. From September to January , support for Arafat climbed from 54 to 58 per cent while backing of the Israeli—Palestinian deal rose from 66 to 72 per cent The Economist , 30 September 46 and 5 January However, developments since the early s demonstrate that it would be premature to discount Hamas and the influence it still exerts on the Palestinian political scene, especially regarding the peace process.

At those times when the Oslo peace process seemed in jeopardy of self-destructing, Hamas had been able to make credible gains. Two years later at the same university, when negotiations for the second stage of Palestinian autonomy were stalled, the rejectionists won 27 out of a total of 51 seats — Hamas alone winning 18 seats. This public shift away from the negotiated option, proposed by Arafat and the PLO, was also exhibited in a January poll i. According to the poll, the number of Palestinians who supported armed resistance had risen from 41 to 53 per cent in the previous two months, while the number who backed the peace process had dropped from 75 to 66 per cent Hamzeh-Muhaisen, : 7.

Since the outbreak of the second intifada in September , the descent into open warfare between the Israelis and Palestinians — and the apparent death of the peace process — has been reflected in increased backing for violent resistance to Israeli occupation and growing support for Hamas. A recent poll conducted by Bir Zeit University showed that 74 per cent of Palestinians now support suicide operations inside Israel The Economist , 16 June In addition, continued joint repression at the hands of both Palestinian and Israeli security forces might disable the movement to such an extent that its future viability is negligible.

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Yet, in terms of its own internal position and those components Hamas can influence, it would seem that there are two areas Hamas must address if it wants to be considered a legitimate vehicle of political counter-protest on the Palestinian political landscape. The first is the necessity of healing the rifts and divisions that have become more pronounced within Hamas in the latter half of the s, especially in terms of strategy. Although there have always been splits within the movement, divisions within Hamas have played a prominent role in undermining its efforts to provide an effective oppositional force.

In fact, the very creation of Hamas as a separate wing of the Muslim Brotherhood was partially in response to the differences that existed between older, more moderate, members of the Brotherhood and the younger, more radical, Islamists. Thus, according to Abu-Amr, during the first month of the intifada ,.

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Traditional Brotherhood leaders were not enthusiastic about an early participation in the intifada , but the young leaders were able to impose their will and vision in this regard. Deep-seated divisions have always existed within Hamas over fundamental questions of ideology, organization, and strategy. In terms of ideology, it is evident that there is a fundamental division between those Palestinians who tend to support Hamas for its conservative and religious orientation, and those who are clearly drawn to Hamas because of its revolutionary appeal as a force of national liberation.

In fact, these differences appear to have become even more pronounced in the new environment created by the Oslo Accords. In addition to the ideological disputes, an organizational schism has developed between various branches of the movement over questions of strategy. The rash of suicide-bombings in the spring of was indicative of the fundamental nature of that split The Economist , 9 March In Gaza, the more moderate leaders of the movement opposed the bombings, while the military wing of the party in the West Bank supported such a strategy The Economist , 18 April In addition, divisions have surfaced between the leadership within the territories which has tended to advocate a more restrained strategy and is fearful of the cost of PA repression linked to the bombing campaign and the leadership outside of the territories which has maintained that only an active military presence can ward off such repression The Economist , 22 August Hamas continues to allot primary importance to presenting a united front in the face of constant repression and PA attempts to sow disunity by ostracizing and delegitimizing its external leadership in Jordan, Iran and Syria Amayreh, : Currently, there have been various attempts to transform Hamas into a legitimate political party i.

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In doing so, it sought to transform Palestinian civil society from within, while bringing it into accordance with the principles of Islam and the rule of the Sharia. In this period, the Muslim Brothers assumed the view that the foundations of an Islamic society must first be created, primarily through Islamic education, before jihad could be legitimately and successfully undertaken. Yet, as Khalil Shikaki cautions:. Hamas remains the sole credible alternative to Fatah and the mainstream nationalists.

Those who have deserted the Islamists have not changed loyalties; most have simply sat on the sidelines.

They could become a reservoir for an Islamist revival. One of the reasons that Yitzhak Rabin. In the Israeli—Palestinian dispute, unless the Oslo process can eventually produce the type of minimal territorial concessions and economic benefits sought by a significant segment of the Palestinian population, Hamas will continue to dictate and shape strategic calculations and security considerations in the region.

By portraying the PLO—PA as a weak, corrupt and ineffective regime, and as little more than an extension of the Israeli security apparatus, Hamas remains a significant force. Hamas is strengthened particularly through its ability to most effectively articulate the grievances of those individuals marginalized and alienated by the current regime and its policies. In the climate of the recent violence and the re-emerging support for suicide bombings, Hamas has achieved prominence as the vanguard in the struggle to protect Palestinian interests and security in the occupied territories.

Hamas can neither be completely destroyed nor simply wished away and, as the primary rejectionist power within the Palestinian Bloc, Hamas continues to constitute the most significant threat to both the Israeli—Palestinian peace process and to the general stability of the region.

Abu-Amr , Ziad. AbuKhalil , As ad.