‘Hamas has come round to the idea of Israel within the 1967 borders.……’

Published: 19 January 2009
Briefing Number 230

Click to Printclick here to print page

Summary: Many Western commentators claim that Hamas has come round to the idea of Israel existing within the 1967 borders. This Briefing compiles statements by Hamas leaders in Arab language media where they admit that “acceptance” of Israel is a tactical ploy in their long-term strategy of “resistance”, leading to Israel 's eventual elimination.

Many commentators claim that Hamas has abandoned its desire to see the elimination of Israel , and has come round to accepting a two-state solution.

For instance:

“Hamas has no charter for the destruction of Israel in its political programme, and just wants the Israeli occupation to end….”

•  Jeremy Greenstock, a former British ambassador to the UN, and director of the Ditchley Foundation, writing in The Guardian, 16 January 2009

And this:-

“Hamas has said many times that it would accept a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and has offered a long-term truce on that basis. That offer was repeated by the Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, to a group of 11 European Parliamentarians, in 8 November 2008 ….”

- letter in The Guardian, 16 January 2009 (the Haniyeh statement was widely reported in the international media at the time)

It is true that Hamas leaders have been making such statements for a long while to Western audiences.

But what commentators choose to ignore completely is the admissions by Hamas leaders in Arab language media that while they are indeed prepared to accept Israel's withdrawal to the 1967 borders, this is a type of deception, an ‘interim solution' and a basis for further armed ‘resistance' to Israel.

Needless to say, Hamas prefer that these statements should be concealed from international attention.

Below we provide some key quotes:-

Accepting the 1967 borders is a “trick” within the resistance plans – Khaled Mashal

“In the eyes of Hamas, tahdieh (calm – ie ceasefires etc) is a trick within the resistance plans…. I cannot be satisfied with the 1967 borders alone…..

- Khaled Mashal, Damascus-based Hamas leader, stated at a convention hosted by Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram, in April 2005, and reported by MEMRI, Report No 894 – see www.memri.org )

“We want all of Palestine ….” - Mahmoud al-Zahar

“We aim to liberate all the lands… if we have the option we will establish a state on every inch of land within our 1967 borders, but this does not by any means imply that we will relinquish our right to all the Palestinian lands. We want all of Palestine from the Mediterranean sea, to the Jordan river ….”

- Mahmoud al-Zahar, Hamas leader and ‘Foreign Minister', quoted in London-based Al-Hayat, 12 October 2006

The 1967 borders are an ‘interim solution' – Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh

Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas Prime Minister, Gaza , said in the build-up to the Gaza elections of 2006:-

“Hamas supports the establishment of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital in the territories occupied by Israel in 1967 – as an interim solution….”

- reported by the Gulf Daily News, Bahrain , 20 January 2006

Talking about the 1967 borders is a tactic for the period till 2010 - Salah al-Bardawil, Hamas politician

“Hamas has never proposed to change or amend its Charter. The platform [for the 2006 election] presents a realistic view that reflects Hamas goals for the next four years. Had we spoken of eliminating and eradicating Israel within that period, we would have been deceiving our people and repeating false slogans. But this does not stand in contradiction to the fact that we place emphasis on the elimination and non-recognition of Israel ….”

Quoted no www.islamonline.org , 14 January 2006

‘The 1967 borders are an interim solution…' – Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, founder of Hamas

In an interview published in the German weekly newsmagazine Der Spiegel on 8 December 2003 , the founder of Hamas Sheikh Ahmed Yassin was asked for his view on Israeli withdrawal to “roughly the 1967 borders and the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state”. He responded:

“It would not work…. It would only be an interim solution ….”

(Elsewhere in the interview, when asked whether there was a place at all for a Jewish state, he replied – “They could set up a state in Europe …..”)

The statements in this Briefing should be quoted back to Hamas spokespeople, and those who call for dialogue with them, every time they claim that Hamas accepts Israel . The question is: “do you believe these statements or not?”

We refuse to recognise Israel , whatever the price we have to pay….. – Mahmoud al-Zahar

“ Israel is a vile entity that has been planted on our soil, and has no historical, religious or cultural legitimacy. We cannot normalise our relations with this entity. The history of this region has proven time and again that occupation is temporary. Thousands of years ago, the Romans occupied the land and eventually they left. The Persians, the Crusaders, and English [also] came and went. The Zionists have come, and they too will leave.

[We say] no to recognising Israel , regardless of the price we have to pay [for our refusal]….”

- quoted in Palestinian newspaper Al-Hayat, London , 12 October 2006

Key messages

These and many other statements by Hamas leaders are routinely ignored by Western media and politicians. Is it any surprise that so many do not understand the context for the challenge Israel faces with Hamas?

Other Beyond Images resources: See the Home page of the Beyond Images website – www.beyondimages.info – and go to All Beyond Images Briefings / the areas called Hamas, and Gaza and Disengagement. These include:-

Briefing 74 – ‘The Jews could have a state in Europe – by Sheikh Yassin…'

Briefing 165 – The Hamas Charter: Extracts

Briefing 186 – “We want all of Palestine – Hamas goals remain unchanged….”

Briefing 229 - What do Hamas and Hizbollah want? What do they mean by ‘resistance' to Israel ?