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2016:

06 May: Tair Kaminer starts her fifth spell in gaol. Send messages of support via Reuven Kaminer

04 May: Against the resort to denigration of Israel’s critics

2015:

23 Dec: JfJfP policy statement on BDS

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11 Nov: UK ban on visiting Palestinian mental health workers

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13 Sep: Rosh Hashanah greetings

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29 July: Letter to Evening Standard about its shoddy reporting

24 April: Letter to FIFA about Israeli football

15 April: Letter re Ed Miliband and Israel

11 Jan: Letter to the Guardian in response to Jonathan Freedland on Charlie Hebdo

2014:

15 Dec: Chanukah: Celebrating the miracle of holy oil not military power

1 Dec: Executive statement on bill to make Israel the nation state of the Jewish people

25 Nov: Submission to All-Party Parliamentary Group Against Antisemitism

7 Sept: JfJfP Executive statement on Antisemitism

3 Aug: Urgent disclaimer

19 June Statement on the three kidnapped teenagers

25 April: Exec statement on Yarmouk

28 Mar: EJJP letter in support of Dutch pension fund PGGM's decision to divest from Israeli banks

24 Jan: Support for Riba resolution

16 Jan: EJJP lobbies EU in support of the EU Commission Guidelines, Aug 2013–Jan 2014

2013:

29 November: JfJfP, with many others, signs a "UK must protest at Bedouin expulsion" letter

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14th June: JfJfP joins other organisations in protest to BBC

2nd June: A light unto nations? - a leaflet for distribution at the "Closer to Israel" rally in London

24 Jan: Letter re the 1923 San Remo convention

18 Jan: In Support of Bab al-Shams

17 Jan: Letter to Camden New Journal about Veolia

11 Jan: JfJfP supports public letter to President Obama

Comments in 2012 and 2011

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Posts

What role for the new Hamas?

This posting has these items, the first two on the ‘new Hamas’ the second two on the old though with signs of change.

1) +972: Hamas’ new charter reveals a willingness to change, Menachem Klein urges people to take the changes seriously, April 10;
2) New Arab: Hamas seeks to rebrand itself in new political programme, March 22;
3) Al Monitor: Hamas factions quarrel over vengeance for commander’s death, March 27;
4) AFP: Hamas leader accuses Israel over official killing, March 27;


Poster image of Hamas leader Khaled Mashal during a rally marking the 21st anniversary of the Islamist movement’s founding, Gaza City, Gaza, December 14, 2008. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib / Flash90)

Hamas’ new charter reveals a willingness to change

Despite what the usual media critics may say, Hamas’ new charter is evidence of a movement in flux, and one that — when the need arises — allows itself to be guided by pragmatism.

By Menachem Klein, +972 blog
April 10, 2017

For a moment, before the familiar flood of mainstream news commentators will completely deny the obvious changes in the new Hamas charter, it’s worth stopping and thinking: If there’s no change at all, why have senior officials been debating the new version for many long months? If everything is empty words, what’s to debate? In reality, what looks like standing water to Israelis and Europeans is nothing less than a whirlpool. Here’s the explanation.

First, a brief note. One can measure the changes in Hamas’s position against its alignment with Israel’s stance, and determine that until Hamas fully accepts Israel’s terms the movement hasn’t changed at all. In this case, the yardstick of progress is its proximity to our position.

But whoever uses this scale as their only metric is trapped in their own way of thinking: they miss the changes taking place within Hamas, and are unable to see the journey the movement has taken from its formation to this new charter. There are many critiques to be raised against Hamas, and the organization should be subject to criticism. But it’s hard to ignore the impressive ideological journey the organization has made over the years.

It’s a journey that began with the Islamic Convention in the summer of 1988, passed through the movement’s platform for the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in 2006, and now arrives on the eve of publication of the movement’s new charter.

Between idealism and reality

Along the way and despite the changes, there has been no major division in the movement. Granted, extremist religious-political movements have emerged in Gaza that are displeased with Hamas’s positions and its method of governing. But despite differences of opinion within Hamas, there has not been a division on ideological or political grounds. Maintaining a common framework requires Hamas to compromise and alter its ideological platform. It’s easy to discern tensions, contradictions and ambiguities in the new charter, and I’ll discuss some of these below.


A Palestinian holds a Hamas flag during a rally of supporters of the Hamas movement against the restrictions on the Al-Aqsa mosque compound, at the Qalandia checkpoint between Ramallah and Jerusalem City, on October 31, 2014.

The original Islamic Charter is a fervent and sweeping religious-fundamentalist document. It is one-dimensional and relies on numerous quotations from the Quran. This charter doesn’t distinguish between prophecy and reality, or between the present and the future. Everything can be achieved through jihad, and fulfilling the commandments of Islam and jihad is the central mission.

The party platform, on the other hand, is a plan of action that addresses the here and now with no reference to theology. The 1988 Islamic Charter is addressed to the Islamic and Arabic world, while the party platform deals only with the Palestinian context, addressing Palestinian society as it really exists rather than as an ideal being sought. The platform is a policy document and does not present Islam as a miraculous solution that contains all of the answers.

Unlike the 1988 Islamic Charter, which established Hamas as an alternative to the PLO (which, according to the Charter, had run its course), the new charter wants to preserve the PLO as a national framework into which Hamas can integrate and exert its influence.

Moreover, the 1998 Charter presents Hamas as related to the international movement of the Muslim Brotherhood, while the new charter declares that Hamas is “a Palestinian-Islamic national liberation and resistance movement” that doesn’t want to interfere in other national liberation struggles. In other words, Hamas doesn’t intend on supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in their struggle against the rule of Sisi in neighboring Egypt.

Distinguishing between Judaism and Zionism

In order to actually understand the journey made by Hamas since 1988, it’s useful to compare the organization to the PLO. The PLO changed the Palestinian National Charter in 1968 when it became a coalition organization led by Fatah. Almost 30 years later, in 1996, the PLO grit its teeth and cancelled most of the articles of the Charter, but refrained from producing a new document.

There’s more. Unlike Hamas, the PLO has avoided public admission of the irrelevance of their charter. The 1988 Palestinian Declaration of Independence, an undeniable deviation from the National Charter, entirely ignores the founding document of the organization and does not include it as one of the sources of the Declaration. The PLO preferred to ignore this document; Hamas, on the other hand, responded without hesitation by acknowledging that change was in order.


Senior Hamas leader Mousa Abu Marzouk at a national meeting with Islamic Jihad, Khan Younis, June 7, 2015. Photo by Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90

Indeed, the changes made by the PLO are in some ways much more radical than those now proposed by Hamas. Nevertheless, one must appreciate the willingness to admit the need to change, coming from a movement that attributes religious and political significance to texts and ideology.

As a religious movement based on sacred texts and written tradition, Hamas takes words seriously. The movement seeks to anchor its development in religious texts, and to express in words its current outlook. Unlike pragmatist parties who prioritize action and aren’t afraid to deviate from a platform, Hamas wants its words to align with its actions.

Senior Hamas figures first announced that they were in principle ready to change the charter in 2006. Now, Hamas is doing so while simultaneously renouncing one of the main tenets of the Islamic Charter: viewing Jews as a religious and national enemy, and condemning them. In the new charter, Hamas explicitly distinguishes between Zionism and Judaism. The movement’s struggle is not, as it has declared in the past, against Judaism, but against the Zionist project and the occupation. And for Hamas it is a bitter struggle.

Unlike the PLO, which in 1988 had already accepted the ’47 partition resolution and implicitly accepts the existence of Israel as a Jewish state, Hamas’s new charter rejects “from the beginning” the Balfour Declaration and the legitimacy of the existence of the State of Israel. Yet this statement contradicts another section of the new charter, where Hamas indicates a willingness to accept a Palestinian state on all of the 1967 territories.

Hamas makes clear in its new charter that an acceptance of a state within the 1967 borders does not constitute a recognition of the Zionist entity, nor a relinquishment of any Palestinian national rights, including the return of refugees and the right to liberate Palestine in its entirety.


Tens of thousands of Palestinians celebrate Hamas’ 25th anniversary in the West Bank city of Nablus, December 13, 2012. Photo by Ahmad Al-Bazz/ Activestills.org

In other words, Hamas isn’t positioning itself to sign an agreement with Israel based on mutual final claims. However, Hamas’s charter indicates that a state across all the 1967 territories, including Jerusalem, is a potential framework for the creation of a national agreement with Fatah. How can one reconcile between the Fatah government and its practice of political compromise with Israel, the pursuit of an agreement based on mutual claims, and the positions of Hamas’s new charter?

Undeterred by ideological shifts

There are other contradictions evident in the leaked document. According to the new charter “resistance,” i.e. armed struggle, is a strategic choice and not a tactic. Yet at the same time Hamas states that armed struggle must be managed in stages, and “within the management of the struggle” – that is, subject to tactical considerations. The charter also fails to clarify how Hamas plans to achieve a state within ’67 borders without a political process.

Moreover, the new charter states that the liberation of Palestinian is a duty of Arab and Islamic nations, and that the movement rejects any state-building effort that relinquishes any one of the rights of the Palestinian people. These are ideological declarations and unrealistic ambitions in light of the Arab world’s devotion to the Arab League’s 2002 peace plan, and at a time when Israel’s two neighbours, Jordan and Egypt, have signed peace treaties with Israel.

In the middle of Operation Protective Edge, Khaled Mashal held two long talks with Mahmoud Abbas on behalf of Hamas, mediated by Qatar’s ruler. In these talks, Mashal gave Abbas the go-ahead to negotiate a state within the ’67 borders with Israel.

The implication was that if Abbas presented a permanent status agreement with Israel that included a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, in line with the Arab League’s plan, it’s likely that Hamas would accept the new reality as it did in 1994. Then, Hamas recognized the jurisdiction of the Palestinian Authority rather than rebelling against it, and it did so again in 2006 when it ran candidates in the PA Legislative Council elections. This recognition came despite the fact that from Hamas’ perspective the PA and its institutions were founded in sin, on the grounds of the Oslo Accords that Hamas so strongly attacked.

The new charter enshrines into a foundational document the political framework that Mashal has given Fatah, while trying to maintain ideological purity. The leaked points from the new charter allow both extremists and moderates in Hamas to adhere to a common framework. Despite the rigidity of some of the clauses in the document, it’s important to remember that this is a dynamic movement, which isn’t averse to shifting its ideology. The dynamism that characterizes the movement indicates that this document probably isn’t the last stop on its ideological journey.

Menachem Klein is a professor of political science at Bar Ilan University. He was an advisor to the Israeli negotiating team during the 2000 peace talks, and is one of he leading members of the Geneva Initiative. His book, Lives in Common: Arabs and Jews in Jerusalem, Jaffa and Hebron, was selected by The New Republic as one of 2014’s “best books for understanding our complicated world.



Hamas seeks to rebrand itself in new political programme

Some say the new document falls short of helping the group out of isolation

By Al Araby/ The New Arab
March 22, 2017

Palestinian faction Hamas has ruled Gaza for the past decade, and is now drafting a new political programme it hopes will improve ties with Egypt and the West.

Hamas has drafted a new political programme it hopes will improve ties with neighbouring Egypt and the West, and present a more moderate image that could get it removed from Western terrorism lists.

The internationally-isolated group, which has ruled the Gaza Strip for the past decade, characterises itself in the new manifesto as a Palestinian resistance movement against Israeli occupation.

Significantly, Hamas drops references to holy war against Jews.

It also raises the possibility of a Palestinian state in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem, lands Israel occupied in the 1967 Middle East war.

Hamas had previously sought a one state Palestine and has opposed previous internationally-backed two state solution peace plans, but even now does not openly condone such road maps.

Salah Bardawil, a Hamas official, confirmed that the document was approved after internal discussions and has been translated into several languages.

“It’s the culmination of political experiments the movement has experienced through its history,” he said.

The document plays down ties to Hamas’ parent movement, the regional Muslim Brotherhood, which is being targeted by Egypt’s government as a “terror organisation”.

Hamas appears to have stopped short of a significant ideological shift amid concerns about alienating its hard-line base.

However, Hamas appears to have stopped short of a significant ideological shift amid concerns about alienating its hard-line base.

This comes at a time when ultra-fundamentalist groups – such as the Salafis – are making inroads, particularly in Gaza.

In referring to a Palestinian state, Hamas does not spell out whether it considers this an acceptable solution to the conflict with Israel or a stepping stone to its long-standing goal of an Islamic state in all of historic Palestine, including what is now Israel.

It makes no mention of recognising Israel, which its political rival, the Palestine Liberation Organisation, did in 1993. At the time, the PLO was led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ predecessor, Yasser Arafat.

The document will not formally replace Hamas’ 1988 founding covenant, which called for the destruction of Israel and for “confronting the usurpation of Palestine by the Jews through jihad”.

Some said it falls short of helping the group emerge from its isolation, arguing it does not mark a genuine departure from its core beliefs.

“The document carries a kind of superficial change, but in fact it upholds most of Hamas’ principles,” Gaza analyst Akram Atallah said.

Hamas’ new programme will be made public at the end of March, after the group completes internal elections.




Yahya Sinwar (2nd R), the new leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, and Hamas senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) sit next to the son of Mazen Faqha during a memorial for him in Gaza City, March 27, 2017.  Photo by Mahmud Hams/AFP/Getty Images

Hamas factions quarrel over vengeance for commander’s death

Outgoing Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal has vowed to avenge the killing of military leader Mazen Faqha; this may provoke Hamas into another round of violent conflict with Israel.

By Shlomi Eldar, trans. Danny Wool, Al Monitor
April 03, 2017

Gaza is being inundated by a flood of demands for a violent response to the assassination of senior Hamas military leader Mazen Faqha. At the same time, a bitter argument is underway between the militant and pragmatic branches of Hamas over the implications of a retaliatory operation against Israel.

Faqha, who was released from an Israeli prison as part of the 2011 Gilad Shalit prisoner-exchange deal, was responsible for setting up an operational infrastructure for Hamas in the West Bank. He was killed under mysterious circumstances March 23 near his home in Tel al-Hawa in northern Gaza. Hamas claims that a special Israeli unit infiltrated the Gaza Strip to assassinate Faqha. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman addressed these accusations for the first time April 2, saying, “Hamas is known for its internal assassinations.” He then went on to recommend that Hamas conduct an internal investigation.

Hamas is indeed investigating. Ever since the assassination, it has conducted a far-reaching manhunt in Gaza to search for suspects. The local Interior Ministry announced that Hamas security forces had taken into custody several people suspected of collaboration with Israel, and that they will soon be brought to trial for treason and assisting the enemy in wartime.


Funeral of  Mazen Faqha in Gaza city. Hamas officials say he was assassinated outside his home there. Photo by Ezz Zaanoun, Al Jazeera

Motivation among Hamas activists to respond to Faqha’s assassination intensified after a March 27 video speech that Khaled Meshaal, the outgoing head of Hamas’ political bureau, delivered to a demonstration in Gaza’s al-Katiba Square, in the presence of all of Hamas’ political leadership. Meshaal said:

 The conflict with the occupier [Israel] remains open. The military and political leadership of Hamas is ready to meet the occupier’s challenge.

Soon after the demonstration, Gaza was plastered with posters quoting Meshaal and promising retaliation. The leaders of the movement did not even hide what form the anticipated retaliation would take. In a sermon this weekend, Ismail Haniyeh, who is slated to take over from Meshaal as head of the political bureau, said, “Revenge for Faqha’s assassination will not end by settling accounts with the people who carried out the killing. We will also reach the people who sent them.” He went on to warn that the blood of Hamas activists is not cheap, and that there will be severe repercussions for the assassination.

Haniyeh was hinting at something that a Hamas video distributed via social networks said openly. The movement would avenge itself in an action targeting the heads of Israel’s security establishment, depicting them in crosshairs in the video. These included Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot, Mossad director Yossi Cohen, Shin Bet director Nadav Argaman, former head of military intelligence Aviv Kochavi and Oz Brigade Commander Col. David Zini. Another web video listed Israeli targets overseas, including ambassadors.

A senior Israel Defence Forces (IDF) officer told Al-Monitor on the condition of anonymity that Meshaal’s comments have sent Hamas into a dizzying spiral, which could result in another round of violence. These calls for a response and the “challenge” posed by Meshaal have led to a debate between the various factions, and it is not clear how it will end. According to the IDF officer, senior members of the group indeed tried to act with discretion immediately after the assassination to put things in the proper perspective — even without abandoning the possibility of retaliatory action. But ever since the speeches by Meshaal and Haniyeh, “Hamas is rushing down a slope, which could end in disaster as far as they are concerned.”


Thousands of Palestinians attend the funeral of Mazen Faqha. Photo by Ezz Zanoun, Al Jazeera.

Al-Monitor has learned that there has been a bitter debate within Hamas over the last week, pitting the movement’s hawkish and pragmatic wings against each other. The question is what the implications will be for Gaza in general and Hamas in particular if the military wing does launch a retaliatory operation in response to the assassination. Top activists may boast that they can strike at the leadership of Israel’s security establishment, but the fact is that if they really plan to meet Meshaal’s challenge, they won’t be able to do it directly from the Gaza Strip. Instead, they will probably have to use the same terrorist infrastructures that Faqha established in the West Bank and launch the operation from there.

This is not the first time that members of the pragmatic wing of Hamas have claimed that Meshaal, who does not live in Gaza, has issued orders to activists in the Hamas military wing without having to deal with the cost or any other implications that these orders might have on Gaza. One Hamas member told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity that Meshaal got Gaza entangled in a war with Israel before. The Hamas member mentioned Operation Cast Lead (December 2008-January 2009), which took place while the political leadership of Hamas was based in Damascus. Meshaal prodded the military wing to embark on a conflict, which ended with hundreds of casualties and thousands more wounded, while delivering a severe blow to Gaza’s infrastructure. A few weeks after that bloody conflict, senior Hamas members Ghazi Hamad and Ahmed Yousef tat Meshaal is about to complete his term as head of the Hamas political bureau, he doesn’t care about leaving a trail of chaos in Gaza, since he will not have to bear the cost.” According to him, now that he is about to leave office, the Hamas leader stands to benefit from another round of violence in Gaza. It would be considered the grand finale of his term, while his successor would be left to deal with the consequences.



Hamas leader accuses Israel over official killing

By AFP, posted by Daily Mail
March 27, 2017

Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal on Monday accused Israel of having killed one of the Palestinian Islamist group’s officials after he was shot dead in the Gaza Strip.

Mazen Faqha, 38, was shot dead by unknown gunmen Friday with four bullets from a pistol equipped with a silencer.

“By killing Faqha, the enemy told us: ‘I’ve scored a point against you and I can take away one of your heroes even in the heart of Gaza,” Meshaal told supporters at a memorial in the Palestinian enclave.

“It’s a new blood debt that adds itself to all those before. The conflict with the occupier (Israel) remains open,” said Meshaal, who was speaking via video link from Qatar where he lives.

“The military and political leadership of Hamas is ready to meet the occupier’s challenge.”

Hamas “is capable of continuing its mission. Our will is stronger than their weapons and we will defeat them in the end,” he added.

Hamas authorities partially reopened the crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel Monday, after a one-day closure following the assassination.


The wife (centre) of Mazen Faqha, a Hamas official who was shot dead by unknown gunmen in the Gaza Strip, attends a memorial for her husband on March 27, 2017 in Gaza. Photo by AFP.

“From Monday morning, travel through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing will be permitted temporarily for some categories,” said Iyad al-Bozum, a spokesman for the interior ministry in the enclave.

Anyone would be allowed to enter Gaza, he said in a statement, but those leaving would remain restricted to senior politicians, the sick and families of prisoners.

The latter two groups would be limited by age — only those under 15 and over 45.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, closed the crossing totally Sunday after blaming Israel for the killing.

The group did not give details on the reason for closing the crossing, though there was speculation authorities may be seeking to prevent those responsible for the killing from leaving.

Hamas officials have said the killing bears the hallmarks of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad, but Israel has not commented on the shooting.

On Monday, Gaza’s attorney general Ismail Jaber placed a gag order on information relating to the “assassination”.

According to Hamas, Faqha formed cells for the group’s military wing in the West Bank cities of Tubas, where he was born, and Jenin.

“From Monday morning, travel through the Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing will be permitted temporarily for some categories,” said Iyad al-Bozum, a spokesman for the interior ministry in the enclave.

Anyone would be allowed to enter Gaza, he said in a statement, but those leaving would remain restricted to senior politicians, the sick and families of prisoners.

The latter two groups would be limited by age — only those under 15 and over 45.

Hamas, which runs the Gaza Strip, closed the crossing totally Sunday after blaming Israel for the killing.

The group did not give details on the reason for closing the crossing, though there was speculation authorities may be seeking to prevent those responsible for the killing from leaving.

Hamas officials have said the killing bears the hallmarks of Israel’s intelligence service Mossad, but Israel has not commented on the shooting.

On Monday, Gaza’s attorney general Ismail Jaber placed a gag order on information relating to the “assassination”.

According to Hamas, Faqha formed cells for the group’s military wing in the West Bank cities of Tubas, where he was born, and Jenin.


Faqha’s funeral on Saturday drew thousands of Hamas supporters into the streets with chants of “revenge” and “death to Israel”.

Ismail Haniya, until recently head of Hamas in Gaza, and Yahya Sinwar, who replaced him as leader, headed the procession.

The Erez crossing is the only one between Gaza and Israel for people. Another crossing with Israel, Kerem Shalom, is used for goods and remained open on Sunday, Palestinian officials said.

The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli blockade for a decade. Palestinian militants in Gaza and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.

Gaza’s sole crossing with Egypt has also remained largely closed in recent years.

LINKS
Hamas takes the antisemitism out of its charter, March 24th, 2017
Excising antisemitism from Hamas Charter, February 3rd

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