Resolution Adopted by the CCAR
HAMAS AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY
Adopted by the 117th Annual Convention
of the Central Conference of American Rabbis
San Diego, CA
“Israel will exist and will continue to exist until Islam will obliterate it, just as it obliterated others before it… The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the landof Palestineis an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgment Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. ”
— from the Charter of the Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya — Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).
Harakat al-Muqawama al-Islamiyya — Islamic Resistance Movement, known by its acronym Hamas, was founded in1987 as the Gazabranch of the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood movement. Hamas has a social service arm which funds schools, clinics, and hospitals in the West Bank and Gaza. Better known, however, is its military arm. The latter, known as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, carries on the “armed struggle” against Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and, until the recent disengagement, Gaza. However, its explicitly stated aim is the destruction of the Jewish State and the establishment of an Islamic State in all of historic Palestine. As opposed to the largely secular Fatah Movement, Hamas is motivated by a religious world view that brooks little or no compromise.
According to the Council on Foreign Relations, as of March, 2006, “Hamas is believed to have killed more than 500 people in more than 350 separate terrorist attacks since 1993i. Not all Hamas’ attacks have been carried out by suicide bombers. The group has also accepted responsibility for assaults using mortars, short-range rockets, and small arms fire.” The group is listed as a terrorist organization by Australia, Canada, the European Union, Israel, and the United States.
On January 28, 2006, Palestinians from the Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem voted for the first time to elect members to the Palestinian Legislative Council of the Palestinian Authority. While the elections were both peaceful and representative, the outcome was disturbing for those committed to the peace process. Out of 132 seats, Hamas and candidates aligned with Hamas won seventy four-seats, making Hamas the most powerful party within the Council, able to form a government of the Palestinian Authority. Given the surveys that indicate that a majority of Palestinians support the peace process, the reason for the success of Hamas, a party which rejects the peace process, is at this time unclear. Having called itself the “Reform and Change Party,” there is a strong indication that many Palestinians voted for Hamas as a protest against the corruption and cronyism rampant within the Fatah run Palestinian Authority.
Prior to these elections, Israel, the United States, Egypt, and the European Union called upon the Palestinian Authority to make participation in the Palestinian elections conditional on the acceptance of these three principles:
1. Recognition of the State of Israel.
2. An affirmation of the Peace process, including acceptance of treaties entered into by the Palestinian Authority.
3. Abandonment of the armed struggle against Israel.
The Palestinian Authority imposed no such conditions. Prior to the election, Mahmoud al-Zahar, co-founder of Hamas, declared that it was the intent of Hamas to enter the Palestinian government “with our weapons in hand,” denying Israel’s right to “any inch” of its territory. After becoming Palestinian Foreign Minister, al-Zahar has repeatedly declared his intention to establish the Palestinian state “from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean.” Through its propaganda to the public and through its educational activities, Hamas teaches hatred of Israel, Zionism, Jews and the West. It condones, encourages, and organizes terrorist acts, and promotes martyrdom in the name of Islam as one of the highest measures of devotion.
As an outgrowth of agreements previously entered into between Israeland the previous Palestinian leadership, Israel, the United States, and many other nations agreed to provide economic assistance to the Palestinian Authority. At that time, the Authority was dedicated, at least in its public face, to peaceful coexistence between the state of Israeland the Palestinian people, with the ultimate stated aim being the creation of a Palestinian State next to the State of Israel. Since the election of January 2006, Israel, the United Statesand other involved nations have announced that they will not provide direct funds to support a Hamas-led Palestinian government, which refuses to recognize the State of Israel, rejects commitments assumed by the previous Palestinian leadership, and continues to espouse terrorism as a justified mode of political resistance. In some cases, representatives of Israelhave indicated that Israel.s best interest might be served by allowing Israelto set the pace and parameters of how to proceed. Some of these funds at issue are Palestinian taxes collected and held by Israel. Presently, means are being explored and utilized to distribute these funds in a way which deals with the very real humanitarian needs of countless Palestinians; but does not provide support to a Palestinian government which continues to call for the destruction of Israel.
On April 17, 2006, a homicide bomber from Islamic Jihad killed ten persons, Philip Balhasan, Rozalia Beseneyi, Pirosca Boda, Marcel Cohen, Ariel Darhi, Victor Erez, Binyamin Haputa, David Shaulov, Daniel Wultz and Lily Yunes, and injured over sixty at the Rosh Ha’ir shawarma stand, near the old central bus station in Tel Aviv. This terrorist act was immediately condemned by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. However, while two terrorist groups, Islamic Jihad and Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades (associated with the Fatah Party), took responsibility, several terrorist organizations in the Palestinian community, rationalized and justified the murderous attack. Notable among those which put the blame for the attack on Israelwas Hamas, which had assumed power only two weeks prior. Hamas has refused to renounce terrorism; and since taking office, Hamas leaders have said they would not arrest Palestinians engaged in attacks against Israel.
Throughout, to his credit, Palestinian President Abbas has urged Hamas leadership to recognize Israeland accept the “Road Map” as a means by which to resolve the conflict through negotiation, but has been continually rebuffed. In the absence of Hamas’ recognition of Israel, President Abbas has called for a non-binding Palestinian referendum which, if passed, implicitly recognizes Israel and calls for the creation of a Palestinian state along side the State of Israel. Hamas rejects this referendum.
On June 9th, 2006, a tragic blast on the Gazabeach between and Sudaniya and Beit Lahiya killed seven Palestinian civilians and wounded more than thirty. Initial reports indicated that the explosion was part of an Israeli attack and so it was presented to the world press. Israelhas expressed regrets but has not accepted responsibility. The IDF immediately suspended artillery fire in the area; and has initiated a full investigation to determine the cause of the explosion, which may or may not have been of Israeli origin. Most recently, Israeli Defense Minister Amir Peretz announced that Israelis not responsible. Meanwhile, Hamas has resumed rocket attacks on towns near the Israeli border. As of June 11, more than 50 Quassam rockets were fired at the town of S’derot alone with severe injuries. All in all, since the withdrawal from Gazain August of 2001 to June 11, at least 500 rockets have been launched from Gazainto neighboring Israeli towns.
Therefore, we, the members of the Central Conference of American Rabbis resolve the following:
While welcoming the democratic parliamentary elections held by the Palestinian Authority in January, 2006, we are profoundly disturbed, given the content of its charter, that the Hamas Islamic Resistance Movement has gained control over the Authority.
We support the Government of Israel’s stance that it will not deal with a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority, unless and until that government renounces the use of violence, recognize Israel’s right to exists, and agrees to abide by any and all agreements previously entered into.
We support those in the Administration and Congress of the United Stateswho oppose granting aid to a Palestinian Authority whose goal it is to destroy Israel. We support humanitarian assistance through appropriate and accountable NGO’s and third parties.
We call upon Israel to continue to honor its obligation to transmit taxes collected for the Palestinian Authority through appropriate internationally-supervised humanitarian organizations and institutions.
We condemn the terrorist attack of April 17 in no uncertain terms and all such acts since, including the incessant Qassam rocket attacks on Israeli towns.
We mourn the loss of innocent Palestinian lives as well. We applaud Israel for its statement of regret following the explosion in Gaza on June 9 and for immediately beginning a full investigation. Should the evidence that Israel was not responsible for the Gaza explosion be definitive, we demand that the world media disseminate news of Israel’s innocence in no less a way than that with which it reported Israel’s assumed guilt. However, were Israel to be found responsible, we would call upon Israel to do all that it can to prevent such tragedies in the future, and to compensate victims as best as it can, as Israel has done in the past under other tragic circumstances.
We recognize in the Hamas justification of terrorist acts targeting innocent civilians an intractable commitment to the use of violence and terror. Still, we call upon Hamas to renounce the use of violence, root out the infrastructure of terrorism, recognize Israel’s right to exist as a sovereign, democratic, Jewish state and abide by all agreements previously entered into by the Palestinian Authority.
We call on the Palestinian Authority to root out from its midst the corruption, the misuse of funds and the abuse of power which apparently prompted many Palestinians to vote for Hamas.
We look forward to — and will continue to work towards — that time when peace, security, justice and well being will come to both Palestinians and Israelis, when all can sit under vine and fig, with no one to make them afraid.