Hamas’ new charter was leaked Sunday evening and published by the Lebanese network Al Mayadeen. Toufic Haddad, the author of the book “Palestine Ltd: Neoliberalism and National Liberation in the Occupied Territory,” posted a quick analysis on social media within hours of the release.
The charter is the first new document on Hamas’ core ideology since it’s founding convent was published in 1988. Here are Haddad’s initial thoughts:
Supposedly the new Hamas charter, as leaked by Al Mayadeen.
No time for a full translation but a quick reading shows a crafted document illustrating the movement’s maturation as a major domestic political and governance actor, while responding to broader regional and international trends as well. Article 19 rejects the potential to concede any part of Palestine (defined earlier in the document as the Mandatory “river to sea” formulation), while the acceptance of a state within ’67 lines with Jerusalem as a capital and the return of refugees and displaced persons, is described as a “shared national consensual formulation that by absolutely no means recognizes the Zionist entity. It also does not mean the concession of any Palestinian rights.”
Most commentary will likely focus on this article (19) which is less interesting to other aspects of the document, as it merely puts in writing what has been said by Hamas leaders for many years in one form or another, while getting rid of the anti-Jewish and freemasonry references that were in its 1988 charter, when the movement first launched, and which its critics loved to attack it for.
More interesting in my reading is how the document appears very conscious of regional and international trends (of sectarianism and “war on terror”/ islamophobia) and repeatedly emphasizes Islam and Hamas’ tolerance, moderation and opposition to all forms of oppression, including that based on religion, ethnicity, gender or citizenship (Articles 8 and 9). It extrapolates further on this in articles 15 and 16 to make a clear distinction between Zionism and Judaism, emphasizing: the non-essentialist religious basis of its struggle (i.e. it opposes “Zionists” and “the Zionist project” and “all who attempt to aggress the Palestinian people, defile its rights, and occupy its lands irrespective of religion, nationality or identity”–not “Jews qua Jews”) (15); the European basis of anti-semitism (16); and Hamas’ rejection of any oppression based on national, religious or sectarian lines (16).
Article 26 also seeks to emphasize Hamas as a democratic player accepting of national diversity and dialogue, while the PLO is described as a “national framework that must be preserved [albeit] with the necessity to work to develop it, and rebuild its democratic bases” (27). The role of the Palestinian Authority is described as needing to “be in the service of the Palestinian people, protecting its security, rights and national project” (30).
Article 33 is solely dedicated to the role of Palestinian women as “the basis for building the present and future, as was always the case in the building of Palestinian history, and which is a pivotal role in the project of resistance and liberation and the building of a political order.” In reference to the Arab and Islamic world (Articles 34-36), “Hamas believes in the unity of the Umma [nation/ community of believers] in all its religious, ethnic and sectarian elements, and sees the need to avoid all that which shreds its unity and common stance”, while Palestine should be “the central cause” of Arabs and Muslims (Article 35).
Article 36 is the most interesting in my eyes as it echoes Fateh’s non-ideological strategic bend. It states: “Hamas believes in cooperation with all countries that support the rights of the Palestinian people, and rejects interference in the internal matters of states. It also opposes interference in conflict and struggles between them […].” It was / is this non-interference dimension which led Fateh and now Hamas, to believe it could preserve its autonomy and financial resource flow, while remaining impartial to inter- and intra-state political and class struggles. In this formulation, Hamas’ conservative statist tendency is best revealed, as the movement clearly strives to insert itself within the regional order, rather than being a part of fundamentally transforming it. Perhaps aware of this, the final article (41) emphasizes that Hamas “opposes attempts at hegemony over the Arab and Muslim people, as it opposes attempts to impose hegemony over other nations and people. It outright condemns all forms of colonialism, occupation, oppression and aggression in the world.”
h/t Ofer Neiman