What is Hamas’s ultimate aim?

  October 10, 2021   Read time 3 min
What is Hamas’s ultimate aim?
The idea of establishing an Islamic state in Palestine as mentioned in the early statements of the movement was quickly sidelined and surpassed. Even when it was repeated by members of Hamas it never amounted to any really serious proposal with thoughtfully considered details.

If anything, its early reluctant existence, followed by almost complete disappearance in Hamas’s documentation and discourse, reflected the tension in the minds of Hamas’s leaders between the political and the religious. On one hand there is the subconscious urge to remain sincere to the pure pre-Hamas religious utopia where the dream of an Islamic state sought to fulfil the goals of the long-distant future. On the other hand, the oversimplification and naivety of this dream exposed the extent to which Hamas needed to become aware of the realities of what the Palestinians were dealing with, on the ground, day after day. In this light, the Hamas dream of a pure Islamic state was practically embarrassing, but the realization of this developed a more sophisticated Hamas, a Hamas content to look towards the actual needs of a Palestinian people under siege.

Palestinians across the spectrum of political convictions have struggled desperately for more than eight decades to extract even minimal legitimate rights, first from British occupiers following the 1922 Mandate, in which Britain was apportioned control of the part of the former Ottoman Empire that included Palestine, and then from 1948, when Britain withdrew from Palestine, leaving the Zionist organization to declare the Jewish state of Israel. Israel has essentially been occupying and colonizing not only those parts of Palestine ‘allocated’ to it by the UN 1947 division plan, but even large areas of Palestine that were not. After all these decades of struggle, the maximum that the Palestinian leadership has struggled to achieve, without success, has been the retention or recovery of no more than one-eighth of the historic land of Palestine.

The Islamic state put forth in early in Hamas literature was visualized to include the whole of Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. The question became, would Hamas wait in hope for full liberation of all historic Palestine, or would it seek to impose a temporary Islamic state in just the West Bank and the Gaza Strip if they were ever returned to the Palestinians? What kind of state would this be, and how would it deal with its surroundings, with Israel, with the world? On what basis would it do so? And so forth. There was a list of endless intractable questions surrounded this idea of establishing an Islamic state, and eventually it ended in complete trivialization, with Hamas dropping the idea altogether.

If not the formation of an Islamic state, then what now is Hamas’s ultimate goal? A plain answer, suggested by the movement’s formal declarations, is the total liberation of the historic land of Palestine from the River Jordan to the Mediterranean Sea. However, similar to the utopian religious goal of establishing an Islamic state, this utopian nationalist goal tends to be mentioned less and less in Hamas’s documents and verbal statements. In fact, the longer Hamas functions, the less interest it shows in adopting or declaring ‘ultimate goals’. Hamas has developed, and is still developing, into a movement that is more and more preoccupied with current and immediate, and medium-term, goals.

In the course of taking power after the elections of 2006, Hamas has focused its pre and post-elections discourse on the concept of explicitly resisting the Israeli occupation while implicitly if reluctantly accepting the principle of a two-state solution. Neither an Islamic state nor the total liberation of Palestine have been emphasized. The ultimate goals, thus, have been replaced with short and medium-term ones, more pressing and more realistic.

Write your comment