11.12.2012 analysis by Assaf David

How Well Do We Know Hamas

An in-depth analysis of an interview that Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in Jordan reveals the complex face of Hamas we often miss

Because Molad is an Israeli think-tank focused on Israeli issues the majority of our website’s of content is in Hebrew. As we grow, more content will become available in English. Below is a short summary this article:

Last weekend Khaled Mashaal went to Gaza for the first time in his life. In his speech, he echoed the Hamas leadership's demand of "Palestine from the river to the sea" and refusal to recognize the occupation, the legitimiacy of Israel, or Zionism. These statements are well known and tediously familiar. But are the words of Hamas written in stone? Is it not possible that Hamas might shift its practices, if not its ideology? Is the sweet talk reserved for the Western press, while in front of its constituency Hamas tells the "truth"— no compromise, and pure venom towards Israel? 

I believe the answer to all these questions is: no.

Late last month, Molad held a roundtable discussion on Israel-Hamas relations. The participants were researchers and political actors, and when the conversation turned to the question of "pragmatism" of the Hamas movement, one of the participants mentioned a little-known interview that Meshaal gave to the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan in July of 2010. The interview was published in four parts as a conversation, without the framework of of questions asked and answers given. It touched on varoius aspects of Hamas's political philosophy, its relationship — and the possibility of peace — with Israel; internal Palestinian, Arab-world, and international policies.

This article analyzes the interview tracing three central threads: moderation and practicality; negotiations with Israel; Arab-Palestinian elements.

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