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HAMAS

                Hamas regards the territory of the present-day State of Israel - as well as the Gaza Strip and the West Bank - as an inalienable Islamic or religious bequest, which can never be surrendered to non-Muslims.  It asserts that struggle to regain control of the land from Israel is the religious duty of every Muslim.  This position is more radical than that now held by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) which in 1988 recognized Israel’s sovereignty. Hamas does not recognize Israel as a sovereign state and refers to it as the `Zionist entity.’ a common hostile term in Arab political rhetoric and calls for an end to the state of Israel in its charter.  During the election campaign, Hamas did not mention its call for the destruction of Israel in its electoral manifesto.  However several Hamas candidates insist that the charter is still in force and often called for Israel to be `wiped off the map’ in campaign speeches.  On January 25th, 2006, after winning the Palestinian elections, Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Zahar gave an interview to Al-Manar TV denouncing foreign demands that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist.  After the establishment of Hamas government, Dr. Al-Zahar stated his `dreams of hanging a huge map of the world on the wall at my Gaza home which does not show Israel on it..I hope that our dream to have our independent state an all- historic Palestine (including Israel).  This dream will become real one day.  I’m certain of this because there is no place for the state of Israel on this land.’   He also `didn’t rule out the possibility of having Jews, Muslims and Christians living under the sovereignty of an Islamic state, adding that the Palestinians never hated the Jews and that only the Israeli occupation was their enemy.

          “`After Palestine, the Zionists aspire to expand from the Nile to the Euphrates.  When they will have digested the region they overtook, they will aspire to further expansion, and so on.  Their plan is embodied The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, and their present conduct is the best proof of what we are saying.’   Suicide attacks are an element of what the group sees as its asymmetric warfare against Israel.  Since the group considers all Israel to be a `militarized society’ (there is mandatory military service for most Jewish men and women) and Israelis to be participants in an illegal occupation of Palestinian land.  Hamas does not distinguish between civilian and military targets.  The fact that this group does not distinguish between combatants and non-combatants and the group’s willingness to target civilian facilities including buses, supermarkets, and restaurants is one of the main traits which supports its classification as a terrorist movement (although Hamas claims being a national liberation movement).

           “While Hamas had boycotted the January 2005 presidential election, during which Mahmoud Abbas was elected to replace Yasser Arafat, it did participate in the municipal elections held between January and May 2005, in which it took control of Beit Lahia in Gaza, Qalqilyah in the West Bank and Rafah.  The January 2006 legislative elections marked another victory for Hamas, which gained the majority of seats, defeating the ruling Fatah party.  The `List of Change and Reform’, as Hamas presented itself, obtained 42.9% of the vote and 74 of the 132 seats.  The result of the election was regarded as a major setback for governments attempting to mediate the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict.  The George W. Bush administration immediately declared that it will not deal with Hamas until it renounces its support of suicide bombings and violence, and accepts Israel’s right to exist.  Israeli president Moshe Katsav and Israel’s ex-prime minister Shimon Peres both said that, if Hamas will accept Israel’s right to exist and give up violence, Israel should negotiate with the organization.  President Vladimir Putin said that Russia would not support any efforts to cut off financial assistance to the Palestinians, stating that Hamas gained power by democratic means.  He invited some Hamas leaders to Moscow beginning of March 2006, and in May, repeated that cutting funds to the Hamas was a `mistake.’

           “The US and the EU cut all funds to the Palestinian Authority, with only Russia warning against the potential dangers of cutting out the PA from any Occidental support.  The EU  (which gives $500 million per year to the PA) announced that future aid to the Palestinians was tied to `Three Principles’ outlined by the international community - Hamas must renounce violence, it must recognize Israel’s right to exist and it must express clear support for the Middle East peace process, as outlined in the 1993 Oslo Accords.  Hamas does not seem to be ready to accept such conditions and rejected them as `unfair.’  At best, they would be ready to accept the Arab Peace Initiative formulated on March 28, 2002 during the Arab League Beirut Summit: full normalization of relations with Israel in exchange for Israeli withdrawal to the 1967 internationally recognized borders, implying Israeli evacuation of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, east Jerusalem, the Golan Heights and the return of all Palestinian refugees and their descendants.  Furthermore, the US has imposed a financial blockade on the PA’s banks, impeding some of the Arab League’s funds (e.g. Saudi Arabia and Qatar) from being transferred to the PA.

           “Israel, on the other side decided to cut transfers of the $55 million tax-receipts of the PA that it receives on the PA’s behalf, since the PA doesn’t have any access point to receive taxes.  Although Hamas omitted its call for the destruction of Israel from its election manifesto, calling instead for `the establishment of an independent state whose capital is Jerusalem,’ several Hamas candidates insisted that the charter remains in force.” {Excerpts taken From, Wikipedia, Free Encyclopedia, pp. 4, 6, 7, 18 - 20}. xcerpts taken From, Wikipedia, Free Encyclopedia, pp. 4, 6, 7, 18 - 20}.

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THE ELEMENTS OF THE MIDEAST CONFLICT
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THE REGIONAL POWERS