Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Position of HAMAS on the 'Two State Solution'

Haraqat al-Muqawwamah al-Islamiyah (HAMAS)

This two part article attempts to explain the position held by HAMAS on the 'the two state solution' in resolving the Palestinian-Israeli conflict

Part I

The historical background

To appreciate the position of most Palestinian who rejects the 'The Two state solution' one must go back to 1947 when the United Nation formed UNSCOP to resolve the growing tension and conflict between the local indigenious Palestinian and the growing Jewish immigrants from Europe. UNSCOP stands for United Nation Special Committee on Palestine comprising of 13 countries, only one of which is a muslim country, Iran. Seven out of 13 supported the partition of Palestine into Arab and Jewish territories. The partition plan was brought before the UN Assembly and passed under UN Resolution 181. Such unanimous support for the partition plan was a foregone conclusion because the overwhelming European membership in the UN. What is regrettable was the indigenious Palestinian people was not consulted and represented in the decision to split Palestine into Arab and Jewish territories.

The Arabs and the Jewish terror groups, trained and armed by the British (Irgun, Haganeh and Stern gang) took up arms against one another. Jewish armed groups resorted to terror tactics and carry out heinous atrocities and massacre over whole villages, the most notorious of which was the 'Dier Yassin' massacre, striking fear into the Palestinians. The arabs, being less organised and ill equipped compared to their Jewish enemy, who were being supplied by shiploads of weapons from Europe were easily routed and driven out from their homes and land, frequently at gunpoints. This lead to the massive exodus of 1948 annually remembered as an-Nakbah (The catastrophe), a tragedy that saw 800,000 Palestinian fleeing thier country for dear life. These survivors among the refugees and their descendents now still languishes in refugee camps across the middle east - particularly Southern Lebanon, Syria and Gaza strip.

The Partition Plan and the final outcome

Resolution 181 of 1947 allocated 55% of Palestinian state to Jewish population. Now bear in mind that the original local indigenious jews made up only 10% of the Palestinian population. The Balfour declaration of 1917 passed in the British Parliament has endorsed Palestine as the Jewish national home. The steady stream of immigrant jews from Europe has increased the jewish population by 30% in mid 1930's. However by 1947, they collectively owned no more than 8% of land in Palestine. On the contrary and against every sense of fairness, the UN allotted 55% of Palestine to the jewish population, a great majority of which were immigrants. (please note that India and Yugoslavia are 2 of the 10 nations that opposed Resolution 181).

British left Palestine on the 14th of Mei 1948. The very next day, Israel was officially announced i.e. on the 15th of Mei 1948. This inevitably lead to the first Arab-Jewish war; and Israel occupied more land; 78% - an additional 23% of territories appoved under the partition plan. Strangely enough the additional territory was endorsed at the Rhodes armistice (in the US) in 1949. That was the status qou up until 1967. The illegitimate state of israel was established on 78% of Palestinian state. Gaza strip was taken over by Eqypt and the West Bank including East Jerusalem (Baitul Maqdis) where al Aqsa mosque is was administered by Jordan.

The 6 day war - 5 - 10th June 1967

On the 5th of June Israeli forces launched a simultaneous attack on the Gaza strip, east jarusalam, the west bank, the Sinai peninsular and the Golan heights. Under the excuse of pre-emptive strike, Israel justified its offensive based on increasing threats and build up of Arab security arrangements alongs her borders. But we must view these offensive in the light of Eretz Israel or 'The Greater Israel' - a vision of the proponents of zionism to establish the state of Israel from the banks of the Euphrates, Iraq to the banks of the Nile in Egypt. In what turned out to be the worst Arab defeat in her long history, Arab armies (particularly Egyptians, Syrians and Jordanians) were annihilated within a short span of 6 days. Egyptian air force was destroyed on the ground - a total of close to 300 military aircrafts were blown out not in the sky, but on the tarmac of the airfields. One of the most humiliating military blunder was that the airforce was asked to maintain radio silence because Pres. Gamal Abdul Nasir was airborne, and he has very little trust on the Egyptian army, that they would make an attempt on his life, by shooting him out of the sky... the price the Egyptian has to pay for this paranoia was beyond comprehension.

Israel probably scored the swiftest military success in the history of military objectives and overan every inch left of the Palestinian territory. The UN security council convened and declared the territorial gains from the 1967 war was illegal passed under resolution 242. But to this day Israel remain defiant of 242 and still occupies the territories, except for the Sinai peninsular which was returned to Egypt as part of the Camp David peace deal in 1978 (I'm leaving out the events of the Ramadhan war or the oct war of 1973 that lead to such development). At any rate Resolution 242 demands that Israel withdraw to the Green line (the Rhodes armistice of 1949). Israel only left Gaza in 2005 after dismantling all the jewish settlement in Gaza - a strategic maneuvre by Ariel Sharon). However Israel's withdrawal from Gaza did not absolve her obligations towards Gaza stipulated under the 4th Geneva convention of 1949, because it was never a withdrawal in the first place. They laid a comprehensive siege on Gaza preventing food and supplies from getting across the crossings; the sealanes were closed by the Israeli navy.

Upon the occupation of East Jarusalem, Israel merged both west and east Jarusalem and declared Jarusalem as the united and eternal capital of Israel. The parameters of the city limits was increased to accomodate as many jewish settlements. This is part of the ploy to tip the demography of Jarusalem in favour of the jews. From then on, there has been a systematic expropriation of Arab land, demolition of Arab homes and even revocations of citizenship to change the demographic make up of the city.

The background to the Intifadhah, 1987.

What happened from 1967 to 1987? The struggle for the liberation of Palestine was spearheaded by the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organizatio). PLO was recognised by the Arab League to champion the Palestinian cause in 1964. It comprises of a coalition of Palestinian fractions - the largest of which is Fatah which was formed in 1956. PLO has in her charter to liberate all of Palestine with the aim of the destruction of Israel. However the struggle of the PLO has become too nationalistic in nature and centred around it's figurehead, Yasser Arafat @ Abu Ammar. So much so that the struggle of the PLO becomes synonymous with Yasser Arafat. The aspirations of associating the Palestinian struggle with the larger struggle of the muslim ummah to free al Aqsa from the shackels of the zionist has somehow become lost by the Nationalistic Palestinian flavour of the struggle.

Meanwhile, islamic factions under the influence and tutelage of The Muslim Brotherhood (al-Ikhwanul Muslimin, based in Egypt) is gaining ground in the struggle. Ikhwan was at the forefront in the struggle when the UN passed the notorious resolution 181, endorsing the partition plan, splitting Palestine into Arab and Jewish territories. Volunteers were recruited and sent to the front. However because of the oppresive nature of the Egyptian regime, than under King Farouk, has frustrated the initiatives of Ikhwan. After the establishment of Israel, Ikhwan continues to play its role among the Palestinians through educational and social means. Syeikh Ahmad Yassin, than, an industrious youth, started informal educational programmes (tarbiyyah) among Palestinian youth in mosques and welfare organizations. Because of the social and educational nature of these programmes the Israeli authority did not pay much attention to them. The support for Ikhwan grew over the years. Eventually they become financially capable of providing preschool, elementary and secondary education for free or for a small fee. They were the ones behind the establishment of the Islamic University Gaza, the alma mater of most of Hamas leaders, Member of parliaments and activist (these include Ismail Haniyyeh, the Prime Minister, Prof Dr Abdul Aziz Duweik, speaker for the parliament (prof of Geography), Mahmoud Zahar, as-syahid (the matry) Dr Abdul aziz Rantisi (padeatrician) and many more). They also started clinics and hospitals for the Palestinian refugees, providing medical services for free. Over a period of 40 years, Ikhwan has become the provider of educational and social needs of most Palestinians.

Over the years, the Palestinian people has lost hope of Arab leaders. They have put their hopes on President Gamal Abdul Nasser, on Yasser Arafat, but it came to a nought. They have experimented with Socialism, Nasserism, Palestinian Nationalism, but all these only adds to the defeat and further humiliation and heaps more agony on the Palestinians.

Intifadhah and the birth of HAMAS

Israel has no intention of pulling out from East Jerusalem and the West Bank. To frustrate any international effort to force Israel back to the green line of 1949, Israel set up a military zone in the West bank along the borders with Jordan, and building Jewish settlements and Kibbutz all throughout the West Bank. By the year 2000, there were more than 200 jewish settlements housing no less than 400,000 Jewish settlers. Now we can understand why in every effort for peace brokered by the US beginning from Oslo in 1991, must take into consideration the 'realities on the ground'. President George Bush has repeated such phrase in every negotiations and peace deal between the Palestinian authority and Israel, including the Roadmap of 2005. 'The realities on the ground' implies that 'the State of Palestine' even within the boundaries of the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem is a state of impossibility. How could you have a viable Palestinian state dotted with Jewish settlements? The best arrangment would be a state comprising of cantonments, or litteraly a Bantustan, a reminscent of the South African black segregated districts during the Apartheid era.

This is what happened during the two decades of the PLO leadership of the Palestinian cause. In the meanwhile, Palestinian in the occupied land was subjected to greater repressive measures by the zionist occupiers. More land were expropriated, more houses were demolished and more people became internally displaced. Palestinians were subjected to travelling restrictions by the presence of military checkpoints and roadblocks in the neighbouhood. Only menial jobs in Israel were available to the Palestinians and these were limited too. Over the years, the rate of unemployment soared, more and more Palestinians live in abject poverty.

The situation became unbearable and an incident in 1987 whereby an Israeli vehicle overan and killed six Palestinians has triggered a nationwide uprising against the occupiers. People took to the street and hold rallies in protest of the incident. The leadership of Ikhwan in Palestine, took the initiatives to issue a communique and annouced the birth of HAMAS (Harakat al Muqawammah al Islamiyat - Islamic Resistance Movement) to lead and give directions to the popular uprising. They took to the mimbars (the mosque) and declares for the first time after decades of struggle, the intifadhah (uprising) and the call for Jihad to liberate al Aqsa mosque and the occupied land.

To be continued
Assoc. Prof. Dr Hafidzi Mohd Noor



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