Is Hamas Going Non-Violent?

The entire U.N. Security Council, representing 14 countries, voted to condemn Israeli settlement expansion as criminal only to have the resolution vetoed by the U.S.. Those 14 members united yesterday to criticize the U.S. position as one that prolongs the stagnated peace process and extends the subjugation of the Palestinian people. The press release at the U.N. described the status quo of the last month:

The past month witnessed a series of developments that are cause for “continued serious concern,” he said, noting the announcement of several new settlement constructions, the demolition of 57 Palestinian structures in the West Bank, an increase in settler violence, and over 300 Israeli military operations in the West Bank.

Gaza and southern Israel again witnessed “a dangerous deterioration” in the security situation, he added. During the reporting period, 45 projectiles were fired from Gaza into Israel, while the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) conducted nine incursions and 13 air strikes.

The condensed summation illustrates the obvious asymmetry of the conflict that has always been apparent. But according to some recent reports, it may become even more so. Bilal Y. Saab at the National Interest:

Jane’s, an internationally respected British security and defense risk-analysis firm, has recently reported that Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, is on “the brink of renouncing armed resistance and moving to a policy of nonviolent resistance to Israel.” Jane’s, with which I have been a monthly writer to three of its publications since 2007, has several hard-to-ignore quotes in its report of Hamas leaders saying that the move was not “tactical” but “strategic.” Also interviewed are Palestinian Authority intelligence officers who said that Hamas’s strategy was “gradual and nuanced,” with one senior officer telling Jane’s that Hamas “intends to keep its military and security units to control the situation in Gaza, not necessarily to fight the Israelis.” The interviewees’ names were not mentioned for obvious security reasons.

The article goes on to explain that “the springboard for this new strategic approach by Hamas is the Arab uprising,” and that Egypt, Qatar and Turkey played a key role in convincing Hamas to reconcile with Fatah and replace armed resistance with nonviolent resistance. “Hamas leader Khaled Meshal,” Saab writes, “in a meeting on November 24 in Cairo with Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, accepted ‘in writing with a signature’ the need to embrace peaceful activism.”

Hamas has not yet gone public with this new approach, but if it does (and that does remain an ‘if’) Saab says it would be “a major boost for the Palestinian cause.” I’m inclined to agree. If there were an explicitly nonviolent united Palestinian front it would put increased pressure on Israel’s American enablers to stop supporting the ruthless subjugation of Palestinians. Then again, the ability of the U.S.-Israeli establishment to inflate threats and indoctrinate people away from peace has discredited such optimism before.

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