Pragmatism or Dogmatism: Hamas and the Dynamics of Ceasefire (An Academic Essay from 2010)

{Foreword: As contrasted to most of my blogs, which are short form, informally written, and not fact-heavy, this piece is an 8,000 word research paper I wrote during my final year at Middlebury College, in 2010, for a seminar on Political Islam. The basic argument, as stated in the conclusion is “that Hamas’ Islamic roots, while offering important frameworks for mobilization, do not determine its policy. Just as votes for Hamas must be largely understood as protest votes, Hamas’ actions must be largely understood as political actions. While Hamas’ rhetoric has been and continues to be radical and violent, its actions, as analyzed through the lens of its participation in ceasefires and lulls, have not lined up with its most radical declarations, and it can thus be concluded that Hamas would find a way to Islamically justify virtually any political position it desired to take. Hamas’ guiding framework can thus be described as pragmatism portrayed as dogmatism.” I decided to post this paper for a few reasons: 1.  Because it is still a relevant- and I think under-understood- way of viewing Hamas and forming policies and opinions. 2. Because I now have a readership I did not have when I first wrote this paper and I want to share my work. 3. As proof that at least some of my opinions are based in study and research. :) So, this piece is probably 20 times longer than my usual pieces, so if you want to read it, maybe print, or save in a different window. If you try to read it as you’d read a blog, you will likely despair wicked quick}

Pragmatism or Dogmatism:

Hamas and the Dynamics of Ceasefire

What has led Hamas to abide by ceasefire with Israel in certain circumstances, and what can this teach us about Hamas, and about the ‘how’ of future engagement with the Islamic Resistance Movement?


By Moriel Rothman

Political Islam

Professor Quinn Mecham

Middlebury College

December 2010

Introduction: Is Hamas Primarily Dogmatic or Pragmatic?

“Hamas is an idea,” according to Israeli author Amos Oz, an idea that “grew out of the desolation and frustration of many Palestinians.”[i] Oz, in his June 2010 article criticizing the Israeli government’s response to the Turkish Flotilla seeking to break Israel’s siege of the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, went on to write that because Hamas is an idea, the notion that it could be forcibly defeated is misguided. Thus, the only way for Israel to deal with the threat Hamas poses is by negotiating with Hamas, either directly or, “more realistically,” following its integration into Fatah [with whom Oz recommends Israel negotiate a peace deal post haste]. Oz’s analysis of Hamas corresponds with a theory by two scholars of Islamism, Dale Eickelman and James Piscatori, which argues that Islamism, or political Islam, is in essence protest.[ii] It is an effective channel for the expression of grievances- or perceived grievances. A fundamental assumption of Eickelman and Piscatori’s argument, and of Oz’s, is that Islamist groups with nationalist goals -like Hamas- are ultimately rational actors, and that they are motivated more by politics than by faith, more by reason than by dogma.  Oz’s analysis paints Hamas not as a conduit for Palestinian Islamic fervor, but rather as a result of Palestinian political and social frustration. It is important to note that the designation “rational” in this context is not a value judgment: a political strategy based in massacre could be as rational as one based in dialogue and cooperation.[iii] In other words, the fact that Hamas’ tactics are despicable should not cloud an analysis of the extent to which the organization is pragmatic and flexible.

Oz’s argument, however, is by no means representative of the mainstream Israeli analysis of what Hamas is and how to deal with Hamas, and his article was attacked by another high-profile Israel writer, Ben Dror Yemini. Yemini, writing for the Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv, challenged Oz’s basic premise that Hamas’ existence had any connection to Israeli action. “There is no greater lie than the assertion that Hamas was established because of Israel,” Yemini writes, “Hamas arose as part of a worldwide awakening of political Islam.”[iv] The implications of Yemini’s conclusion are clear, especially when juxtaposed with Oz’s argument: Hamas, as part of the “worldwide awakening” is fundamentally irrational, and its supporters are driven by religious dogma unconnected to Israeli action.

In keeping with Yemini’s conclusion, author Yonah Alexander, in his book Palestinian Religious Terrorism: Hamas and Islamic Jihad, writes that “Hamas’ central goal is the establishment of an Islamic state in all of Palestine, i.e., Israel and the Occupied Territories.”[v] Yemini’s theory and Alexander’s interpretation of Hamas’ “central goal” have important policy implications. While Oz and the proponents of the Islamism-as-protest theory see Hamas as a largely rational force, and thus one that could be dealt with in a myriad of different ways, including political engagement, Yemini and Alexander see Hamas as an Islamic force not operating in response to political grievances, but rather in pursuit of holy Islamic- and thus nonnegotiable- ends. As such, no change in Israeli policy- save, of course, an increase in military might, either to defeat Hamas by force or to make participation in Hamas so costly that Hamas supporters’ fear overwhelms their dogma- could prompt Hamas itself to change its strategy.

Alexander’s analysis of Hamas’ central goal does not wildly attribute positions to Hamas; in fact, it is an almost direct quotation of Hamas itself, which states in its charter that it “strives to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine.”[vi] There is no question that Hamas has, since its inception, endeavored to justify its actions with Islamic explanations. The question is, however, as follows: have Hamas’ actions truly been motivated by Islam, as Yemini, Alexander and, indeed, Hamas itself argue, or are Islamic justifications secondary to Hamas’ political goals? In other words, are Hamas’ politics defined by its interpretation of Islam, or is its interpretation of Islam defined by its politics?

This exchange between Oz and Yemini serves to illustrate a profound debate within Israeli society about what Hamas is, and how best to address the undeniably real threat it poses to Israel’s security. Moreover, the corresponding theory behind both positions illustrates a wider debate among modern academics and policymakers alike about the nature of political Islam and how best to address its increasing prevalence on the world stage. In writing this paper, I seek to weigh in on both debates. Clearly, though, in the interest of both brevity and feasibility, I will not endeavor to explain or analyze every element of Hamas and its actions, let alone every element of political Islam. Instead, I will focus my analysis specifically around a much narrower question that incorporates many elements of this debate and has great significance for future Israeli policy and indeed for the future of Israeli-Palestinian peace: Why has Hamas, in certain situations, called for and/or abided by a ceasefire with Israel?

There are a number of possible explanations to this question, some of which correspond to an analysis of Hamas’ goals as pragmatically and politically motivated, and others which correspond to an analysis of Hamas’ goals as dogmatically and Islamically motivated. While these explanations are many, I argue that they can be grouped into two main categories. The first school of thought views Hamas as fundamentally Islamic (and Islamically fundamentalist), operating based on a desire liberate all of Palestine and establish an Islamic state -a goal that has no chance at realization in the foreseeable future. According to this view, Hamas will desist from violence and/or call for a ceasefire only when military weakness mandates as much -and thus only until Hamas can rearm- or when fear of Israeli force overwhelms the dogma Hamas’ leaders and supporters. The second school of thought views Hamas as fundamentally pragmatic, a political actor with goals subject to change and compromise, like other political actors. As such, the second school of thought would explain Hamas’ decisions to abide by ceasefires with Israel as linked to factors other than military inability to attack.

My findings, throughout the course of this analysis, have led me to identify largely with the latter camp, as I have found the most important factor in understanding Hamas’ call for and adherence to ceasefire in certain circumstances to be internal Palestinian political dynamics and Hamas’ correlated search for political inclusion and power, even at the expense of “establishing an Islamic state over every inch of Palestine” anytime in the near future. This hypothesis is not intended to completely disregard the significance of military circumstances or of Hamas’ radical rhetoric, but rather to challenge analyses which would claim either as primarily important. My analysis will consist of a number of different sections, beginning with a historical contextualization of Hamas, and a discussion of its stated ideological and Islamic positions. I will also therein introduce the concept of the Hudna, Islamic truce, although the concept’s relevance as distinct from other forms of ceasefire is questionable. Having established Hamas’ background, and having shown how Hamas’ religious dogma is secondary to its political pragmatism, I will then transition into the crux of my analysis, analyzing in depth every instance in which Hamas either called for or acquiesced to a Hudna and/or Tahdiah (literally: lull) and/or ceasefire with Israel, beginning in 1996 and continuing until November of 2010. Within the analyses I will discuss and compare the different potential explanations for Hamas’ actions. I will conclude with an analysis of the implications of my findings, which, if accurate, would prescribe significant policy change for engaging Hamas in the future.

Background: History and Foundations of Hamas

            Hamas, the Arabic acronym for al-Haraka al-Mukawima al-Islamiyya (the Islamic Resistance Movement), was officially founded on December 14th, 1987, days after the beginning of the First Intifada. While Hamas’ establishment corresponded chronologically with the first major widespread Palestinian uprising against the Israeli Occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, its founders had, according to Azam Tamimi’s book Hamas: A History from Within, been planning a transformation of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, whose Islamist functions were largely charitable and religious, into a militant resistance organization for ten years prior to the group’s inception.[vii] Before its transformation into Hamas, Israel tacitly supported the expansion of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood as an alternative to the militant, secularist Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO).[viii] And accordingly, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood pursued policy that was so “non-activist” that it was accused by some hard-line Palestinian nationalists as being actively “in line with Israel.”[ix]

            Through the lens of history, though, and through analysis of the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood’s leaders, the latter allegation is shown to have been fantastical and baseless from the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood’s end, although it is true that Israeli policy in the early 1980s was favorable towards Hamas, tolerating, for example, Hamas-led demonstrations while banning those led by the PLO.[x] Sheikh Ahmad Yassin (1936-2004), often hailed as Hamas’ spiritual leader, and one of its most important founding members, indubitably advocated Islamic action based on charity and education, rather than Islamic action based on violence, through the 1970s and early 1980s. But, according to Tamimi, Yassin did not initially advocate violent resistance only because he did not think the Palestinians were ready. “The credo of the [Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood]… was that the sickness of Palestinian society was such that it needed to be cured before it was fit to resist, and that there was no better medicine than a return to Islam.”[xi] While they did not plan the First Intifada (no one group planned the First Intifada), it was, for the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood, “a gift from heaven” and they were able to use it as a launching platform for their long-planned transformation into Hamas.[xii] Hamas’ foundation signaled a departure “from the parent organization’s traditional “re-Islamicizing” of society.[xiii] Nonetheless, Islamic language was to play an important role in Hamas’ self-definition.

Stated Ideology of Hamas: From the Charter to Hudna

According to Azzam Tamimi, Hamas’ Charter, written in 1988, has been “both problematic and embarrassing and has been cited more by critics of the movement than by its spokesmen.”[xiv] Nonetheless, it is an important starting point for an analysis of Hamas’ stated ideology. Replete with Islamic language and references to Islam, the Hamas Charter opens with an affirmation, in Article One, that Hamas draws its guidance from Islam: Hamas’ central objective is therein said to be a reclamation, for Allah, of “every inch of Palestine.”[xv] As such, Hamas’ charter calls for ceaseless violence until that objective is achieved: while the term Jihad (literally: struggle) is far more ambiguous and than Western media often paints it to be, Hamas’ Charter is explicit in its interpretation of Jihad as violent, holy war. With such a definition made clear, Hamas’ Charter asserts that “nothing is loftier than waging Jihad against the enemy and confronting him when he sets foot on the land of the Muslims,” and that “there is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by Jihad.”[xvi] In short, Hamas’ Charter is unambiguous in its embrace of violence, and indeed its rejection of “peace initiatives” are equally Islamically shunned, “for renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion.”[xvii] However, a study of politics inevitably teaches the careful student that words and actions do not necessarily align.[xviii] Therefore, only through an analysis of Hamas’ actions and corresponding statements together can the usefulness of Hamas’ Charter -and other Hamas documents and rhetoric- in actually understanding Hamas be determined.

Indeed, Hamas’ Charter has no mention of ceasefire, or its Islamic equivalent, Hudna. Hudna is the classical Islamic term designating a long-term truce between Muslims and their enemies, and is based off of the period, beginning in 628 C.E., in which Mohammad called for a ten-year truce, known as the Truce of Hudaibiyah, with his enemies from the Quraysh tribe and during which “people of the two parties were to live in peace.”[xix] According to Bassam Tibi, Muslims are permitted to call for a Hudna “only when Muslim power is weak,” and even then, ten years is the maximum time a Hudna can extend.[xx] However, according to Khaled Hroub, the Hudna is a flexible and broad concept that was used differently by different rulers in Islamic history.[xxi] Hamas to date has only participated in one official Hudna with Israel, in 2003, but it has agreed to numerous other temporary ceasefires of sorts which, according to Jeroen Gunning in his book Hamas in Politics, “followed a similar logic” as the 2003 Hudna.[xxii] It is worth noting that Hamas “has been very keen” to distinguish the practice of Hudna from the PLO’s calls for ceasefire, which Hamas views as “capitulation.” As such, Hamas draws two main distinctions between a Hudna and a ceasefire: first, that a Hudna is not a peace treaty that “could comprise concessions,” and second, that a Hudna has an explicitly limited time frame.[xxiii] Whether such a distinction is substantial or merely rhetorical remains to be determined, and having noted Hamas’ preferred distinction, I will nonetheless periodically refer to the unofficial Hudnas either as Tahdiahs (literally: lulls), if relevant, or as ceasefires throughout this analysis.

The central question of this section, and indeed of this paper as a whole, is whether such an Islamic understanding of Hudna, one that sanctions Hudna only in times of Muslim military weakness and holds as central the goal of rearmament, served as a primary factor in Hamas’ advocacy of temporary truce in all or any of the cases in which Hamas did so?  An initial implication of the Islamic understanding of Hudna -as outlined by Tibi- that is worth highlighting before entering a more in depth analysis is this: if Hamas is shown to truly be driven by such an understanding of Islamic truce, then two things follow in terms of how Israel should engage Hamas. First, if only a weak Muslim power may engage in Hudna, then Hamas must be kept militarily weak at all times, and second, no truce with Hamas ought ever to be trusted to any real extent, for the moment Hamas is again strong, the truce, according to Islamic law, must come to an end, and Hamas must resume its pursuit of Islamic conquest. If Hamas’ willingness to abide by ceasefires is not motivated primarily by such Islamic guidelines, what is it motivated by, and what role, if any, does Islam play in Hamas’ decision making? Having gone over a number of Hamas’ stated- although not necessarily actual- ideological positions and introducing the concept of Hudna, this essay will now transition into an overview of Hamas’ ideology in practice, and establish therein a foundation for analyzing the circumstances of Hamas’ actions before, during and after each case of ceasefire, and addressing many of the larger questions put forward in this essay thus far.

Ideology in Practice: A Brief Overview of the Hamas-Israel Relationship, Pre Second Intifada

            Virtually as soon as it was officially established as Hamas in 1987-88, the Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood began a transformation from a relatively marginal actor in the in the theatre of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict to a leading role, such that today Hamas is by far the most powerful Palestinian group that is openly hostile towards Israel. Because Hamas opposes Israel’s existence and advocates Jihad against Israel as the way forward, in principle Hamas and Israel ought to have been in a state of non-stop war for the past 23 years. In reality, though, such is not the case, and while rhetorically both sides have maintained extremely hostile positions towards one another throughout the past two and a half decades, there have been notable periods of relative calm. Those periods will serve as the backbone for my analysis in this section. First, however, it is important to establish the historical and political progressions in the Hamas-Israel relationship prior to the Second Intifada and the first official Hudna in 2003.

After participating in the First Intifada in what could best be described as a manner that ran mostly parallel to the PLO’s strategy- not extremely cooperative, but also embracing a similar strategy- Hamas broke with the PLO in a more significant manner in 1991, when PLO chairman Yasser Arafat agreed to participate in the Madrid Peace Conference with Israel. Hamas argued that “the premises of the Madrid formula made it impossible to achieve any positive result.”[xxiv]  The question is whether the premise that Hamas most opposed was the one that stated Hamas must be excluded; Hamas was never offered any meaningful participation in the process in exchange for its support and thus had no political incentive to renounce violence.

In 1993, information emerged that the PLO was poised to sign the secret Oslo I agreement with Israel (in which Israel was to recognize the PLO as the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people”). Hamas reacted furiously, issuing a statement in absolute opposition to the accords. Part of the statement elaborates on Hamas’ traditional refusal to give up one inch of Palestine. However, there is a more interesting line in the statement, in which Hamas sounds almost like a wounded sibling: “We ask why the occupying powers… don’t allow the opposition, and particularly Hamas, to express their views.”[xxv] This latter line plants a seed of doubt in the garden of conclusions that Hamas’ opposition to the Oslo Accords was wholly and stringently ideological. Regardless, Hamas’ violence against Israel and Israelis continued to increase. In 1994, claiming retaliation for the Goldstein Massacre,[xxvi] Hamas began launching suicide bombings against Israeli civilians inside of Israel; these horrific suicide bombings were to continue intermittently until 2005, and played an enormous and definitive role in the conflict the directions it took.

Although Sheikh Yassin had first floated the idea of a Hudna with Israel in 1993,[xxvii] the first practical instance of a Hamas cessation from violence resulted from an deal between Hamas and the PLO in September-October of 1995 in which Hamas agreed to refrain from violent attacks against Israel to allow the January 1996 Palestinian municipal elections to proceed smoothly. In exchange, the PLO would agree to recognize Hamas as a “legitimate opposition group.”[xxviii] Hamas largely upheld its end of the bargain, although the PLO’s “recognition” of Hamas was not manifested in any meaningful way.[xxix] Without going into extensive detail at this stage, I will state that the events of the 1996 agreement are quite significant as the beginning of a pattern and will be reexamined briefly in subsequent sections of this paper.

The Hudna: 2003

            The Second Intifada erupted in September of 2000, and the years from 2000 until 2003 were marred by virtually nonstop violence between Israel and Hamas, as well as between Israel and other Palestinian factions. In 2001, having witnessed in Jordan a bloody dispute resolved using the concept of Hudna, Israeli businessman Eyal Ehrlich proposed that the Israeli government push for a Hudna with its Palestinian adversaries. According to the Tel Aviv based think tank, the Reut Institute, there are two opposing approaches regarding the Hudna: one that views the Hudna as a “conflict resolution method” and the other that views it as a “method of gaining military advantages.” This dichotomous approach resembles the two schools of thought highlighted earlier in this paper: In the former understanding, the Hudna would function as a period of calm in which the warring parties could negotiate, whereas in the latter understanding, the Hudna is merely a part of ultimate Jihad, and functions as a time in which Muslims can replenish their strength for further conflict.[xxx] While Mr. Ehrlich’s proposal was based on an interpretation of Hudna as a “conflict resolution method,” the Israeli government’s response, in January of 2002, unquestionably took the other side: Ehrlich’s proposal was flatly rejected by the Israeli government, who called the plan “stupid” and a “trap for fools.”[xxxi] Indeed, the official Israeli government position in 2001 was substantiated by Hamas’ rhetoric, both in its it charter and in its public statements. Again, though, actions and words do not always align, and thus it is crucial to analyze closely the events leading up to June of 2003, when Hamas, along with a number of other Palestinian factions, declared a unilateral Hudna themselves.

            Soon after the Israeli rejection of the idea of Hudna with the Palestinians, Arab leaders convened a summit in Beirut, wherein they produced what is known as the Arab Peace Initiative, which proposes peace with and recognition of Israel in exchange for a return to the pre-1967 borders.[xxxii] The Initiative was unanimously endorsed and announced on March 27, 2002. On the same day, Hamas carried out one of the more horrific attacks perpetrated up until that point in the Second Intifada: a Hamas suicide bomber named Abdel Aziz Basset Odeh blew himself up at a communal Passover Seder at the Park Hotel in Tel Aviv, mostly attended by elderly Israelis, killing 29 and wounding 154 more. Following the attack, Sheikh Yassin issued a statement saying that the attack was a “message rejecting the Arab League proposal,” and concluding that “the Palestinians will not surrender.”[xxxiii] Israel’s response to this attack, which came as one of many such suicide attacks in the early parts of 2002, was to launch Operation Defensive Shield, the specifics of which I will not enter in this analysis, except to note that violence between both sides increased dramatically, with Israeli forces now occupying most major Palestinian cities[xxxiv] and Palestinian terror attacks against Israeli civilians continuing.[xxxv]

Exemplifying the sort of inconsistency that can be found in many of Hamas’ positions over the past decade, Hamas leader Ismail Shanab, in a April 28, 2002 interview with the San Francisco Chronicle, claimed -in addition to calling Hamas’ charter merely “theoretical”- that Hamas would accept the Arab Peace Initiative. The conditions proposed by the Initiative, Shanab said, “would be satisfactory for all Palestinian military groups to stop and build our state, to be busy in our own affairs, and have good neighborhood with Israelis.”[xxxvi] While this claim -which reflected a possible division in Hamas’ leadership over the issue of the Initiative- was not corroborated or immediately reiterated, its implications were not wholly disregarded. Apparently believing, at least on some level, that Hamas would be willing to agree to some sort of compromise, Egypt brokered, over the course of 2002-2003, a series of agreements between Fatah, Islamic Jihad and Hamas that led to the 2003 Hudna.[xxxvii] On June 30, 2003, Hamas joined with Fatah and Islamic Jihad in agreeing to the unilateral “cessation of all military activity” and calling on world governments to push Israel to meet a number of political demands: to stop violence- and specifically assassinations- against Palestinians, to lift “the closure” from Palestinians’ elected officials,[xxxviii] to release all prisoners and detainees, not to harm Muslim and Christian holy sites, and to stop building and expanding settlements.[xxxix] It is worth noting that only Fatah officially explicitly called the unilateral ceasefire a Hudna. Nonetheless, Hamas signed onto the same basic program of ceasefire.

Jeroen Gunning, in his analysis of Hamas’ 2003 agreement to the ceasefire, utilizes what is known as Social Movement Theory, a school of thought that views rational motives seemingly radical actions and cites the importance of three factors, Resource Mobilization, Political Opportunity, and Framing, in explaining movements’ actions.[xl] Gunning sees Hamas’ circumstances in 2003 as fitting directly within the Social Movement Theory paradigm. In terms of Resource Mobilization, Gunning cites the same reason as the Israeli government and as Islamic justification: Hamas’ military weakness. Israeli military action throughout 2002-2003 against Hamas had indeed served to damage Hamas’ capacity to stage attacks against Israel, and in the month of June, 2003, Israel had extended its assassination policy to Hamas’ political leaders as well as military leaders.[xli] Jumping from this fact to what he believed to be the logical conclusion, Israeli Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom said on June 17th, 2003 that an agreement of truce from Hamas would not be enough, as it would simply give Hamas the opportunity to rearm, and thus Israel would only accept a truce if the PA dismantled “the militant groups,” including Hamas.[xlii] However, Gunning points out two other important factors that undermine the clarity of Shalom’s position: Increased political opportunity generated by the appointment of Mahmoud Abbas as Prime Minister of the PA in April of 2003, and “a shift in public opinion.”[xliii]

The former development was important because, according to Gunning, while Arafat held complete control of the PA, Hamas had little faith that they would be included in the peace process in any meaningful way. However, Abbas’ appointment, although Arafat still called most of the shots, marked a potential change in the Hamas-PA relationship, as Abbas initially pledged not to use PA force against Hamas and refused Israeli and Western pressure to dismantle Hamas. In what may well have been viewed as a gesture of seriousness, Abbas visited Hamas leadership in Gaza on June 16th to try to convince them to participate in the Hudna.[xliv] At the same time, Hamas’ political popularity had increased, but so had support for a cessation of hostilities (80% of the Palestinian population by 2003, according to some studies).[xlv] Hamas leaders, according to the Gunning-ian perspective, reasoned that participation in the PA’s ceasefire would be wise, as “without a political system in which to participate, it had little to show for its strength.”[xlvi] Hamas’ rhetoric continued to be highly incendiary during this time: “By God, we will not leave one Jew in Palestine. We will fight them with all the strength we have.”[xlvii] But the gap between Hamas’ rhetoric and reality is emphasized by the fact that Hamas agreed to stop fighting the Jewish State twenty days after one of its leaders promised to fight the Jews with all the strength Hamas had.

It would seem, then, that while Hamas’ decision to participate in the Palestinian Authority’s unilateral Palestinian Hudna was likely influenced by its military weakness and increased Israeli military pressure, Hamas’ choice may have ultimately had more to do with the fact that it was the Palestinian Authority’s Hudna than with the fact that it was a Hudna- which Hamas strived to assert that it was not- or than any direct consideration vis-à-vis Israel. In other words, Hamas may have agreed to a truce in the summer of 2003 based on political considerations rather than Islamic ones– even Islamic ones connected to military might. Keeping this finding in mind, it remains to be determined whether the same can be said for Hamas’ motivations in the subsequent instances in which it called for or enacted ceasefire with Israel.

Towards Tahdiah: 2004-2005

The Hudna/ceasefire of 2003 only lasted for slightly over a month. Israel, having given its aforementioned reasons, never agreed to the Palestinians’ terms for the Hudna– and thus it is impossible to say whether or not Hamas would truly have respected the Hudna had it been mutual. On August 8th Israeli forces killed two Hamas militants in Nablus. Hamas responded with a number of suicide bombings, although did not immediately call off the Hudna. Israel then assassinated Ismail Shanab and threatened to kill Yassin, Hamas blew up a bus in Jerusalem, and things were largely back to where they’d been in June.[xlviii] Despite the Hudna’s abysmal failure, Hamas again proposed a ceasefire in January of 2004, by way of senior Hamas figure Abdel al-Aziz Rantisi. Israel immediately rejected this offer as “insincere” and a “smokescreen” for Hamas rearmament.[xlix] As there was no immediate Palestinian follow-up action, it is impossible to gauge whether there was any seriousness behind the statement or not; nonetheless, it is an interesting development to keep in mind in light of developments later the same year.

 Continuing its policy of targeted assassinations of Hamas’ political leaders, Israel assassinated Sheikh Ahmad Yassin on March 23, 2004, and Rantisi a few weeks later and violence continued to rage. These two assassinations clearly decimated temporarily Hamas’ operational capacity; according to Michael Irving Jensen, Hamas was “no doubt in a state of shock… [and] initially- out of fear- did not publicly appoint a successor [to Rantisi].” Indeed, Hamas was arguably the weakest it had been in years following these two assassinations, and yet its attacks continued (with a suicide bombing taking place on April 17th, the same day Rantisi was killed) and it made no moves towards searching for another ceasefire. Indeed, it was not until another significant political opportunity arose- Yasser Arafat’s death, in November of 2004, which opened up space in the Palestinian political arena, and allowed for Hamas’ increased participation (and success) in the Palestinian local elections in December of 2004- that Hamas began again indicating willingness for ceasefire.[l]

Concomitant with the aforementioned political opportunity, Hamas’ openness to compromise increased, and in March of 2005, Mahmoud Abbas convened another summit on Hudna with the other Palestinian factions in Sharm al-Shaykh, Egypt, and again succeeded in convincing Hamas to agree to a ceasefire that would last until the end of 2005.[li] This time, Hamas made it clear that it was agreeing not to a Hudna, but instead only to a Tahdiah, which means a period of calm, and is less Islamically binding than a Hudna. In a March 30th interview following the announcement of the Tahdiah, the leader of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, said that “for the Hamas, tahdiah is a ploy in the resistance plan, whereas for the PA it is a way to get out of the resistance plan… Nevertheless, we are giving [tahdiah] a chance.”[lii] Nonetheless, according to Michael Irving Jensen, Hamas “henceforth kept a new unilateral Palestinian cease-fire for more than a year.”[liii] Jensen’s statement is mostly accurate, although Hamas did take responsibility for an August 28, 2005 suicide attack in Be’er Sheva.[liv] This attack took place during Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from Gaza, and it could thus be argued that Hamas’ attack was an indicator that an Israeli withdrawal from all of the Occupied Territories would not suffice; however, the term “unilateral” is of great significance here, as a unilateral anything would not suffice for any party searching for political participation, and it could thus be argued that Hamas was merely symbolically expressing its discontent at “being left out,” as the attack was not directly succeeded by others. Suicide bombings continued to regularly occur, launched by the Islamic Jihad, and in December of 2005, following a series of intensive Israeli air strikes in Gaza in response to the Islamic Jihad’s December 5th attack in Netanya, Israel, all Palestinian factions decided to break off the truce with Israel except for Hamas, which “said that it would observe the ceasefire until the Palestinian elections ended in January, and then reassess.[lv] Therein lies an extremely important illustration of Hamas’ desire to gauge whether political participation would best help it further its strategies at that time (which will be analyzed in the following section), and its decision not to use violence even in response to Israeli air strikes and in coordination with other Palestinian militant groups is quite significant.

2006: Hamas’ Election, Bid for Political Legitimacy and Inclusion, and More Ceased Fire

            According to Matthew Levitt, in his book Hamas: Politics, Charity and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad, “the Palestinian Authority under Fatah has not shared Hamas’ Islamist orientation- and therefore must be supplanted for Hamas’ vision of Palestinian society to be realized.” As such, Levitt continues, Palestinian analysts “readily concur” that Hamas aims to undermine the PA and “impose itself as an alternative.”[lvi] That Hamas’ has aimed to undermine the PA is certainly an accurate analysis. The question, however, is whether this can truly be explained by Hamas’ disdain for the PA’s lack of Islamic fervor, as Levitt implies, or rather simply as a case of political opposition by a rival group convinced of cooperation’s futility.

On January 25th, 2006, the Palestinian elections significantly changed the situation on the ground once again. In what was a massive surprise for many, Hamas included, Hamas won 74 seats in the 132-seat Palestinian parliament. These elections’ results have been explained by many analysts as based primarily on Palestinian public frustration with Fatah’s corruption, and Hamas’ ability to provide effective social services: in other words, as a direct illustration of Eickelman and Piscatori’s theory of Islamism as protest. In a January 31st interview with the Guardian, Khaled Meshaal, defending the legitimacy of Hamas’ elections, reiterated that Hamas would never recognize Israel, but discussed the possibility of truce, saying to Israel “if you are willing to accept the principle of a long-term truce, we are prepared to negotiate the terms.”[lvii] And then, on February 9th, Hamas detailed its proposal further, offering a long-term ceasefire in exchange for Israel pulling out of the territories occupied in 1967,[lviii] although Khaled Meshaal, in a statement to the Palestinian daily Al-Ayyam on the same day, said that Hamas “is not considering a long-term Hudna.”[lix] This contradiction can be understood in the same way as Hamas’ rhetoric in general, and by Hamas’ need to appear uncompromising –a need that ultimately proved surface level in 1996, 2003 and 2005, and would again be modified later in 2006. Israel’s official response to Hamas’ proposals was basically unchanged, although it was now coupled with a complete refusal to recognize Hamas’ government, which was sworn in, with all of its senior members located in Gaza, on March 29th, 2006. Additionally, tensions between Fatah and Hamas began to morph into violence, and on June 25th, Hamas, gauging the existing calm as useless following both intra-Palestinian violence and increased Israeli-Palestinian violence, officially repudiated its 2005 ceasefire with Israel, capturing Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and prompting from Israel a heavy-handed military response and an “imposition of a total blockade” on the Hamas-dominated Gaza strip.[lx]

            Despite increased Fatah-Hamas tensions, Mahmoud Abbas once again convinced Hamas to accept another ceasefire in November 2006. While it is possible to imagine, in the narrow context, that Hamas’ acquiescence to this deal was primarily motivated by the effectiveness of Israel’s squeezing, by way of the blockade and continued military repression, such an argument does not stand up to scrutiny in the broader context of the conflict: the blockade remained in force for the next number of years, and Hamas both had full capacity and was fully willing to act militarily against Israel at various intervals. Rather, Hamas’ agreement to ceasefire in this case must once again be understood as yet another bid towards political inclusion into the PA. In this case, Israel, as contrasted to previous instances, agreed to the ceasefire as well. However, while there was relative calm for the next six months between Israel and the Palestinians, fighting between Hamas and Fatah continued and intensified.

Although a national unity government included both Fatah and Hamas was announced on March 17th, 2007, Fatah deployed, in May of the same year, 3,000 troops into Gaza in an effort -supported by Israel and the international community- to reassert its presence there.[lxi] It was at this point that Hamas, perceiving its political opportunity to be extremely low, broke off the truce with Israel through a resumption of rocket fire, and, in June, Hamas forces violently seized control over the Gaza strip, forcing Fatah out completely. The argument that Hamas had been using the ceasefire with Israel as an opportunity to rearm is also plausible, as Hamas did indeed say, in a January 2007 proposal offering Israel a 10-year truce in exchange for a withdrawal to the 1967 green line, that their ultimate goal was to “build a large army and defeat the Jewish state.”[lxii] However, the rearmament hypothesis, like its partner, the military weakness and/or Islamic justification hypothesis, fails to explain the timing of Hamas’ actions in the same way the hypothesis involving a rise and fall in perception of political opportunity does. Indeed, the events of 2006-2007 serve to reinforce the following finding from earlier in this paper: when Hamas has perceived opportunity to gain political power as high (as was the case in early 2006) its willingness to agree to ceasefires was also high. By June, Hamas’ perception that it would be able to gain political influence through negotiation and/or participation was severely damaged by Israel’s complete refusal of any form of non-violent engagement and by increased tensions and clashes with Fatah. However, not having given up entirely on the potential for political participation, Hamas agreed Abbas’ request in November of 2006, and upheld the ceasefire throughout the beginning of 2007, repudiating it entirely only once perceiving political cooperation and participation with Fatah to be impossible, a point driven home by the Fatah’s decision to deploy 3,000 troops into Gaza.

Similarity and Uncertainty: 2008-The Present

This pattern developed, I will be brief in illustrating that the final two instances of Hamas ceasefire, officially in 2008, and de facto from January 2009 until the present, follow the same basic formula, and I will then transition into my conclusion, which will include a succinct analysis of all of the cases viewed together, an interpretation of the findings, and a discussion of the implications of the findings, and the possible policy prescriptions resulting therein.

            The violence that erupted in 2007 continued to rage and simmer at varying levels until June of 2008, when both Israel and Hamas agreed to a six-month ceasefire, brokered by Egypt.[lxiii] This truce was referred to, in preliminary discussions, once again as a Hudna.[lxiv] However, it was ultimately framed as a six-month Tahdiah. The months leading up to this ceasefire were extremely costly for the Palestinian side in Gaza, with 111 Palestinians killed in April-May of 2008; moreover, by May, the effects of the blockade were taking a serious toll on Gaza’s economic viability.[lxv] Perhaps, then, in this case, as contrasted to the subsequent cases, military factors and weakness (a la Islamic justifications) or fear truly were the deciding ones?

According to an analysis by Israeli Lt. Col. Jonathan Dahoah Halevi, published in June 2008 by the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, Hamas’ motives had “nothing to do with ‘distress,’ but rather with ‘opportunities.’” Halevi first discusses Hamas’ desire to gain recognition as the legitimate ruler of Gaza, and its desire for international legitimization and its removal from international terrorism lists, and then goes on to highlight another important and time-sensitive political factor: The approaching Palestinian elections at the end of 2008, six months later. High ranking Hamas officials had already expressed unwillingness to recognize Abbas’ authority post-December, and as such, according to Halevi, Hamas would be “liable to claim that, according to Palestinian law, administrative authority should be passed on to the chairman of the parliament, who is a Hamas leader, or should be decided by the parliament itself, where Hamas has an overwhelming majority.”[lxvi] In other words, according to Halevi’s analysis, Hamas’ strategy in advocating a lull in fighting was primarily oriented around internal Palestinian politics, once again.

Although the truce was periodically strained and violated by both sides, including a continuation of Hamas rockets in June 2008[lxvii] and an Israeli incursion into Gaza in November,[lxviii] it was mostly upheld, and remained in effect until its slated expiration, in mid-December 2008, when things quickly devolved into what was known by Israelis as Operation Cast Lead and by the world as the Gaza War of 2009, which left over 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza dead and much of the Gaza Strip in ruins.[lxix] In mid-January, a truce was finally agreed to by both sides, and since then, Hamas violence against Israel has been limited. The case of 2009 until the present brings into question once again my thesis that Hamas’ motivation to refrain violence and call for ceasefire with Israel is based primarily on political opportunity within Palestinian society.

Indeed, one of the most pressing current questions, both for this analysis and for Israeli policymakers is this: can it be assumed that the magnitude and intensity of force used in Operation Cast Lead prompted Hamas to reconsider its strategy of violence, or is such a read on history and present day politics fundamentally flawed? There are those- many of them hardliners within the Israeli government- who argue that Operation Cast Lead was a success in deterring Hamas and limiting its military capability and that Hamas’ relative refrain from violent action since must be seen as a direct result of such. This argument is flawed in this scenario just as it has been in past instances, although it is harder to determine the nature of the current scenario, based on lack of research and the lack of hindsight’s benefits. As such, the most significant indication of Hamas’ motives for keeping quiet based on can be found in between the lines of yet another news report, this one issued in January of 2010. In it, Hamas issued a message to the PA “warning” them not to proceed in peace talks with Israel before completing unity talks with Hamas, which have been sputtering in and out over the past year and a half.[lxx] This warning, in the context of this analysis, must be understood more as a plea, although that is not to say that it could not lead to Hamas’ characteristic brutality and violence. It is yet another indication that Hamas’ primary goals are political inclusion and power rather than attempts at military destruction of the State of Israel, for Islamic reasons or otherwise, and Hamas has indeed issued a number of statements since January of 2009 reiterating its basic willingness to accept an Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 borders.[lxxi]

Aaron Mannes, writing for the Jewish Policy Center in September of 2009, argues that the fact that Hamas has maintained quiet since Operation Cast Lead has largely been a result of Hamas’ military weakness, arguing that “the primary driver for Palestinian attacks on Israel [relates to] Hamas’ strength and military capacity…When Hamas was engaged in the Palestinian political process (either running in elections or allowing its representatives to participate in the Palestinian Parliament) there remained a very high likelihood of Hamas suicide bombings as well as other acts of violence. This undermines the argument that participating in the democratic process has moderated Hamas.”[lxxii] Mannes’ argument is flawed in a number of assumptions. First, as I have shown in this paper, Hamas suicide bombings were lower at periods in which it actually perceived political opening (the elections of 1996, the elections of January 2006, etc.). Even imagining, arguendo, that Hamas’ suicide bombings and other acts of violence were basically at the same level during times of perceived opening and other times, Mannes’ assumption that Hamas has been allowed to participate in the democratic process is simply inaccurate. Hamas has been constantly excluded from any meaningful participation in the Palestinian democratic process. While military deterrence cannot be ignored as a factor, any attempt to portray it as the primary factor in leading Hamas to call for ceasefire with Israel is historically and logically inaccurate.

Conclusion: Reviewing and Looking Forward 

                        Time and again, Hamas’ willingness to abide by ceasefire with Israel has shown, through in depth analysis, to be driven by political considerations, mostly concerning its relationship with the Palestinian Authority. The fact that Hamas has continued to strive for inclusion into the Palestinian political system, through compromising and acquiescing to PA/Fatah requests to temporarily lay down arms and through participation in the Palestinian political system, coupled with its stated willingness to agree to long-term ceasefire if Israel were to withdraw to the 1967 borders, strongly indicates a high degree of political pragmatism within Hamas. As such, an important conclusion that can be extracted from this analysis is that Hamas’ Islamic roots, while offering important frameworks for mobilization, do not determine its policy. Just as votes for Hamas must be largely understood as protest votes, Hamas’ actions must be largely understood as political actions. While Hamas’ rhetoric has been and continues to be radical and violent, its actions, as analyzed through the lens of its participation in ceasefires and lulls, have not lined up with its most radical declarations, and it can thus be concluded that Hamas would find a way to Islamically justify virtually any political position it desired to take. Hamas’ guiding framework can thus be described as pragmatism portrayed as dogmatism.

            There follow from these conclusions a number of important implications for Israeli strategy in engaging Hamas in the future. First, militarily pressuring Hamas will not succeed in forcing it to moderate or renounce violence, let alone in eliminating Hamas entirely.  Hamas has proved highly resilient and largely resistant to Israeli military pressure over the past two and a half decades, and it must be recalled that it takes very few military resources for Hamas to stage an attack: a single person willing to pull a trigger, a handful of rockets –which Hamas has plenty of- launched from a field. Indeed, as retired Israeli Shin Bet Chief Ami Ayalon has said, large military operations against Hamas “would only bring the people to declare their solidarity with Hamas.”[lxxiii] As such, a different strategy must be pursued if there is to be peace and stability between Palestinians and in the region. A first option, in that case, would be that of direct Israeli negotiation with Hamas. This scenario is extremely unlikely, based on current and past Israeli government positions, and on Hamas’ need to maintain at least a semblance of its Islamic steadfastness never to recognize the legitimacy of the “Zionist entity.” Fortunately, there is another way for things to move forward, towards a long-term ceasefire, perhaps under the framework of a Hudna, which has potential to be the most attractive way for Hamas to make peace with Israel without officially making peace with Israel. As affirmed in a Special Report on Hamas by the United States Institute of Peace, “Although Hamas… will not transgress Shari’ a, which it understands as forbidding recognition [of Israel], it has formulated mechanisms that allow it to deal with the reality of Israel as a fait accompli.”[lxxiv] While the argument could be made that a ten-year truce should not be strived for by the Israelis in that it will necessarily expire, such an argument need not be engaged too seriously, as it is clear that if Hamas maintains a truce for ten years straight, and reaps meanwhile the benefits of political legitimacy and inclusion, it is extremely unlikely that it will dismantle a truce for the sake of Islamic justifications that it had already stretched and bent so many times. Moreover, international politics, especially international politics concerning treaties between warring parties, ought not to be primarily determined by trepidations as to what may or may not happen ten years in the future.

            Looking back to my analyses of the circumstances in which Hamas agreed to ceasefire, the explanation that stands out as the most important is that of political participation in or with the Palestinian Authority. As such, a number of things need to take place. First and foremost, Fatah and Hamas must reenter a unity government, and Fatah must refrain from provocations such as its troop deployment in 2007. At the moment, not only does Fatah have little incentive to enter negotiations with Hamas, which would inevitably lead to divvying up of Fatah’s currently highly centralized power, indeed Fatah has a number of disincentives that prevent it from seriously entering talks with Hamas. Both the Israeli and American governments have maintained an unbending refusal to deal with any Palestinian government that includes Hamas.

According to Israeli Lt. Colonel Halevi’s previously cited analysis of Hamas motives,  “another diplomatic consequence of the tahdiya will be increasing pressure on Israel to accept a reconciliation agreement between Hamas and Fatah in the future. That could lead to increasing demands on Israel to negotiate a permanent status arrangement with the joint Hamas-Fatah government, while Hamas remains committed to its political program for the elimination of Israel. It is important to recall that the entire Israeli-Palestinian negotiating track since the convening of the Annapolis conference [November 2007] was premised on the exclusion of Hamas and the ultimate achievement of an agreement between the Israeli government and the government of Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah alone.” Mr. Halevi’s analysis of what the tahdiya could lead to is spot on, but his analysis of Hamas’ remaining “committed to its political program for the elimination of Israel” falls flat against an analysis, like mine, which show Hamas to be committed only rhetorically to the impossible program of a military elimination of Israel.[lxxv]  It must be recalled that Fatah, with whom Israel is currently negotiating, and whose security forces have done a highly commendable job at combating internal extremism, was completely “committed to a political program of the elimination of Israel” prior to its inclusion in the peace process in the 1990s, and its subsequent rhetorical 180 in the Arafat-Rabin letters of 1993, in which it recognized Israel’s right to exist. Mr. Halevi is correct in saying that the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations since Annapolis have been premised Hamas’ exclusion. Negotiations since Annapolis have also largely failed to achieve any positive results. Perhaps it is time to try something new.


[i] Oz, Amos. “Israel Adrift at Sea.”

[ii] Eickelman and Piscatori, 109.

[iii] For a discussion of massacre as rational, see: Kepel, Giles. “The Logic of Massacre in the Second Algerian War” in Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. Belknap Press (2002).

[iv] Yemini, Ben Dror. “The New Empire.” In Ma’ariv (Hebrew).

[v] Alexander, 3

[vi] Hamas Charter, Article Six.

[vii] Tamimi, 10-13

[viii] Gaza Chronology. And Robinson, 124.

[ix] Jensen, 44

[x] Robinson, 124.

[xi] Tamimi, 25-35

[xii] Ibid, 53

[xiii] Gaza Chronology, 104

[xiv] Tamimi, 7

[xv] Hamas Charter, Article 1

[xvi] Hamas Charter, Articles 12 and 13

[xvii] Ibid., Article 13

[xviii] For example: “I did not sleep with that woman.”

[xix] Hroub, 55

[xx] Tibi, 178, 184

[xxi] Hroub, 55

[xxii] Gunning, 221

[xxiii] Hroub, 56

[xxiv] Jensen, 19

[xxv] Hamas Leaflet No. 102, in Jensen, 21

[xxvi] In which the Jewish Settler Baruch Goldstein opened fire on Muslim worshippers in a mosque in Hebron, killing 27 and wounding over 100.

[xxvii] Hroub, 55

[xxviii] Gaza Chronology, 108. Gunning, 220.

[xxix] More facts of this window in time: During this period of calm, Israel assassinated Hamas’ head bomb maker Yayha Ayyash, on January 5th, 1996. Hamas did not retaliate immediately, but launched a series of particularly gruesome suicide bombings within Israel during the months of February and March of the same year. In 1997, Sheikh Ahmad Yassin was released from jail, having been arrested again in 1989, as part of a prisoner exchange following Israel’s infamously botched attempt to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan. Upon release, Yassin issued a statement saying that Hamas would halt military operations “for a period of time” if Israel were to withdraw entirely from the Occupied Territories. Such a hypothetical was dashed along with the tragic failures of 2000, but it serves as important base material for analyzing the instances in which Hamas actually took steps towards Hudna or “ending military operations for a period of time.” The dynamic of Hamas violence against Israel and Israeli assassinations and arrests of Hamas leaders, sometimes in coordination with the PLO, continued for the next few years, up until September of 2000, when all dynamics were changed.

[xxx] Reut Institute: “Hudna.”

[xxxi] Ibid., Citing Kim, Hannah, in Haaretz, January 2, 2002 (Hebrew). Concomitant to the government’s rejection of the Hudna proposal was its announcement of seizure of the ship Karine A off the Suez, containing 50 tons of weapons “allegedly from Iran for delivery to the PA,” (Gaza Chronology, 112).

[xxxii] It is worth noting that the Arab Peace Initiative also does not repudiate the Palestinian “right of return,” a concession which the Israeli government has never, and likely will never, acquiesce to. Nonetheless, the Arab Peace Initiative represented quite a new position for Arab governments, and one far more conciliatory than any proposed in the past (the Arab League’s Khartoum Resolution in 1967 was based on “three no’s:” no peace deal, no negotiations, no recognition). Many Israeli figures have responded in a variety of ways, but the Israeli government has yet to issue any official reaction to the Initiative.

[xxxiii] Levitt, 3-5

[xxxiv] Israel also during this period surrounded and de facto arrested PLO chairman Yasser Arafat in his headquarters in Ramallah. Israel accused Arafat of not doing his part to stop Hamas’ terrorism, and even condoning it. It may or may not be worth noting (the issue of words, once again) that Arafat did issue specific condemnation of the Passover Seder attack and subsequent decision to arrest a number of Hamas leaders.

[xxxv] UN Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/10.

[xxxvi] San Francisco Chronicle, April 28th, 2002. “Hamas Would Accept Saudi Peace Plan, Spokesman Says.”

[xxxvii] Reut Institute: “Hudna.”

[xxxviii] Referring to Arafat in his headquarters.

[xxxix] New York Times: “Words of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad: Just, Lasting and Comprehensive Peace.” June 30, 2003.

[xl] See: Wictorowicz, Quintan. Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach. (2004): Indiana University Press.

[xli] Gunning, 225

[xlii] Sydney Morning Herald: “Hamas Truce Not Enough- Israel Raises Bar.” June 17th, 2003.

[xliii] Gunning, 222-223

[xliv] New York Times: “Words of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad: Just, Lasting and Comprehensive Peace.” June 30, 2003.

[xlv] Gunning, 227

[xlvi] Ibid., 223-226

[xlvii] Abdel al-Aziz Rantisi’s interview with Al-Jazeera, Jerusalem Post. June 10, 2003,

[xlviii] Jensen, 41. And Avinery, Uri. “A Drug for the Addict,” on: Counterpunch.

[xlix] The Independent. “Israel rejects ‘insincere’ Hamas offer of 10-year truce.” 1-27-2004.

[l] Jensen, 42-43

[li] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), March 12, 2005. Cited in Memri: “Abu Mazen’s Presidency- An Interim Assesment.”

[lii] Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 30, 2005. Ibid.

[liii] Jensen, 43

[liv] Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Suicide Bombings and Attacks in Israel since the Declaration of Principles (Sept 1993).”

[lv] Gaza Chronology, 117. Emphasis/italicization mine.

[lvi] Levitt, 116

[lvii][lvii] “We Will Not Sell Our Principles for Foreign Aid,” in The Guardian. January 31, 2006.

[lviii] “Hamas Offers Deal if Israel Pulls Out,” in The Telegraph. February 9, 2006.

[lix] Reut Institute. “Hudna.”

[lx] Gaza Chronology, 117.

[lxi] Ibid, 118.

[lxii] World Net Daily. “Hamas Leader Offers 10-Year Truce with Israel.” January 20th, 2007.

[lxiii] BBC: “Hamas and Israel agree to truce.” June 18 2008:

[lxiv] MSNBC: “Hamas Offers Truces In Return for 1967 Borders; No Israeli Response.” 4-18-2008.

[lxv] Gaza Chronology, 120.

[lxvi] Halevi, Jonathan Dahoah. “The Hamas Interest in the Tahdiah with Israel.”

[lxviii] 11-6-08 in Al Jazeera: “Hamas-Israel Truce Under Threat… Both sides accusing each other of provocations.”

[lxix] For a more in depth news analyses of the circumstances leading up to the breakdown of 2008, see: December 2008 Timeline from Reuters:, December 22, 2008: Hamas says truce is over:, Dec 31: Hamas and Israel renew attacks as ceasfire is rejected:,2933,474348,00.html.

[lxx] Ma’an News Agency. “Hamas: PA Must Return to Unity Talks Before Israel Peace.” 1-30-2010.

[lxxii] Mannes, Aaron. “Why Has Hamas Been Quiet in 2009?” Jewish Policy Center. September 15th, 2009.

[lxxiii] Interview with Ami Ayalon, in Der Spiegel.

[lxxiv] Scham, 2

Works Cited


1.         Oz, Amos. “Israel Adrift at Sea.” In:

2.         Eickelman, Dale and James Piscatori. Muslim Politics. Princeton University Press (1996): Princeton.

3.         Kepel, Giles. “The Logic of Massacre in the Second Algerian War” in Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam. Belknap Press (2002).

4.         Yemini, Ben Dror. “The New Empire.” In Ma’ariv (Hebrew):

5.         Alexander, Yonah.  Palestinian Religious Terrorism: Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Transnational Publishers (2002): New York.

6.         Hamas Charter. English translation found at:

7.         Tamimi, Azzam. Hamas: A History from Within. Olive Branch Press (2007): Northampton, MA.

8.         Robinson, Glenn. “Hamas as a Social Movement.” in: Wictorowicz, Quintan. Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach. (2004): Indiana University Press.

9.         Jensen, Michael Irving. The Political Ideology of Hamas: A Grassroots Perspective. I.B Taurus (2010): New York.

10.       Hroub, Khaled. Hamas: A Beginner’s Guide. Pluto Press (2006): London.

11.       Tibi, Bassam. Islamic Political Ethics. Princeton University Press (2002): Princeton.

12.       Gunning, Jeroen. Hamas in Politics: Democracy, Religion, Violence. Columbia University Press (2008): New York.

13.       Levitt, Matthew. Hamas: Politics, Charity, and Terrorism in the Service of Jihad. Yale University Press (2006): New Haven, CT.

14.       Gaza Chronology: A Timeline Analysis from 1948-2008. In The Journal of Palestine Studies. Vol. XXXVIII, No. 3 (Spring 2009).

15.       Reut Institute: “Hudna.” Online at:

16.       UN Report of the Secretary-General prepared pursuant to General Assembly resolution ES-10/10.

17.       San Francisco Chronicle, April 28th, 2002. “Hamas Would Accept Saudi Peace Plan, Spokesman Says.”

18.       Wictorowicz, Quintan. Islamic Activism: A Social Movement Theory Approach. (2004): Indiana University Press.

19.       Sydney Morning Herald: “Hamas Truce Not Enough- Israel Raises Bar.” June 17th, 2003.

20.       New York Times: “Words of Fatah, Hamas and Islamic Jihad: Just, Lasting and Comprehensive Peace.” June 30, 2003.

21.       Abdel al-Aziz Rantisi’s interview with Al-Jazeera, Jerusalem Post. June 10, 2003.

22.       Avinery, Uri. “A Drug for the Addict,” on: Counterpunch.

23.       The Independent. “Israel rejects ‘insincere’ Hamas offer of 10-year truce.” 1-27-2004.

24.       Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (PA), March 12, 2005. Cited in Memri: “Abu Mazen’s Presidency- An Interim Assesment.”

25.       Al-Ahram (Egypt), March 30, 2005. Ibid.

26.       Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, “Suicide Bombings and Attacks in Israel since the Declaration of Principles (Sept 1993).”

27.       “We Will Not Sell Our Principles for Foreign Aid,” in The Guardian. January 31, 2006.

28.       “Hamas Offers Deal if Israel Pulls Out,” in The Telegraph. February 9, 2006.

29.       World Net Daily. “Hamas Leader Offers 10-Year Truce with Israel.” January 20th, 2007.

30.       BBC: “Hamas and Israel agree to truce.” June 18 2008.

31.       MSNBC: “Hamas Offers Truces In Return for 1967 Borders; No Israeli Response.” 4-18-2008.

32.       Halevi, Jonathan Dahoah. “The Hamas Interest in the Tahdiah with Israel.” In the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (Online). 6-19-2008.

33.       Ma’an News Agency. “Hamas: PA Must Return to Unity Talks Before Israel Peace.” 1-30-2010.

34.       Khaled Meshaal on Charlie Rose:

35.       Mannes, Aaron. “Why Has Hamas Been Quiet in 2009?” Jewish Policy Center. September 15th, 2009.

36.       Interview with Ami Ayalon, in Der Spiegel. 1-28-2008.,1518,531152,00.html

37.       Scham, Paul and Osama Abu-Irshaid. Special Report on Hamas from the United States Institute of Peace. June, 2009.