There is only one message sent by the recent meeting between Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, during a week when Hamas repeated its call for the elimination of Israel: Turkey endorses Hamas and supports its agenda and ideology. Pictured: Erdogan at an anti-Israel rally, wearing a scarf with the flags of Turkey and the Palestinian Authority, on May 18, 2018 in Istanbul. (Photo by Getty Images)
The Palestinian Hamas movement this week celebrated its 32nd anniversary by reminding everyone of its main goal: the destruction of Israel. This message is proof that Hamas has not – and will not – change its charter, originally published in 1988. It is also a powerful message to those who may have deluded themselves into believing that Hamas has transformed into a non-violent Palestinian faction.
This charter, also known as the Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement, states that Hamas's "struggle against the Jews is very great and very serious" and calls for replacing Israel with an Islamic state. "There is no solution for the Palestinian issue except through Jihad (holy war)," the charter says. "Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are all a waste of time and vain endeavors. Renouncing any part of Palestine means renouncing part of the religion [of Islam]."
Thirty-two years later, the leaders of Hamas have again shown that they remain more committed than ever to their covenant, particularly regarding the desire to replace Israel with an Islamic state.
In this regard, Hamas deserves credit for being straightforward about its true intention. In statements marking the anniversary of the founding of Hamas, the movement's leaders again demonstrated that they do not mince their words.
Ibrahim Yazouri, one of the founders of Hamas and its military wing, Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, said in an interview with the Hamas-affiliated Palestinian Information Center:
"Hamas and its military wing are continuing with their policy until the liberation of Palestine. We are nearing the day of liberation. Within a few years, God willing, the Al-Aqsa Mosque, occupied Jerusalem and all of Palestine will be liberated. Hamas will continue to use all means to liberate Palestine. The big victory is nearing and we need to be more patient."
When Hamas leaders talk about the "liberation of all of Palestine," they are actually repeating their commitment to destroy Israel.
Moreover, when Hamas leaders talk about using "all means to liberate Palestine," they are referring to various forms of terrorism, including suicide bombings and rocket attacks against Israel. These are the only means Hamas believes in as a way of achieving its goal.
Hamas does not – and will never – recognize Israel's right to exist. As the movement states in its charter, "the land of Palestine has been an Islamic Waqf throughout the generations and until the Day of Resurrection. No one can renounce it or part of it, or abandon it or part of it."
The statements made this week by several Hamas leaders are identical to the content of their charter. These statements – 32 years after the establishment of Hamas – reaffirm the movement's extremist and dangerous ideology.
Osama al-Mazini, another senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said in a speech marking the movement's anniversary: "Hamas promises to remain faithful to its people and principles. The cowardly enemy understands only the language of force and gunpowder." He also called on Jews "to leave Palestine" and warned that Hamas has prepared thousands of suicide bombers to expel the Jews "from all of Palestine."
Musa Abu Marzouk, deputy chairman of the Hamas "Political Bureau," seized the occasion to describe Israel as a "Zionist project." He emphasized the need for Palestinians to "resist the Zionist project in order to liberate Palestine, all of Palestine."
Again, Abu Marzouk's statements show that he, too, remains fully committed to the Hamas charter. "Hamas is one of the links in the chain of Jihad to confront the Zionist invasion," the charter states.
"Zionist organizations control vast material resources, which enable them to fulfill their mission amidst societies, with a view of implementing Zionist goals and sowing the concepts than can be of use to the enemy. Those organizations operate [in a situation] where Islam is absent and alienated from its people. Therefore, the Muslims must fulfill their duty in confronting the schemes of those saboteurs. When Islam will regain possession of [the means] to guide the life [of the Muslims], it will wipe out those [Zionist] organizations which are the enemy of humanity and Islam."
The Hamas anniversary celebrations in the Gaza Strip, which attracted tens of thousands of Palestinians, coincided with efforts made by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations to reach a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel. The anniversary also came amid increased talk about Hamas's readiness to participate in new elections for the Palestinian Authority presidency and Palestinian parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council.
The large turnout at the pro-Hamas rallies in the Gaza Strip is indicative of the movement's popularity among Palestinians. The tens of thousands of Palestinians who attended the Hamas rallies would seem to share the movement's principles and ideology, particularly regarding the annihilation of Israel. They, too, apparently believe that force and terrorism are the only languages Israel understands. They, too, chanted in favor of the "liberation of all of Palestine" from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.
Now that Hamas has again – clearly – reminded the world that it has not changed and continues to seek the destruction of Israel, the question is: Why are some world leaders, governments and organizations continuing to embrace the leaders of the movement?
During a week when Hamas is repeating its call for the elimination of Israel, why is Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan meeting with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh? What message does such a meeting send to Palestinians and the rest of the Arabs and Muslims?
There is only one message that an encounter between Erdogan and Haniyeh sends: Turkey endorses Hamas and supports its agenda and ideology. It is no wonder that the Hamas leader praised Turkey's "support for the Palestinian people" after the meeting with Erdogan.
A further question that ought to be asked in light of the recent venomous anti-Israel statements by Hamas leaders in the past few days: Why is the United Nations trying to convince Hamas to participate in Palestinian presidential and parliamentary elections?
What is the point of pressuring Hamas to participate in the planned vote as long as Hamas remains committed to Israel's destruction? Instead of urging Hamas to participate in the elections, it would be better if the UN called on Hamas to abandon its charter and stop calling for the destruction of Israel.
The international community already caused damage by allowing Hamas to run unconditionally in the January 2006 Palestinian parliamentary election. Calamitously, the international community failed to demand that Hamas renounce violence, recognize Israel's right to exist and commit to all agreements signed between the Palestinians and Israel as a prerequisite for participating in that election, which resulted in a Hamas victory.
Then, Hamas leaders were clever. They ran in the election under the umbrella of the very same Oslo Accords that they refuse to recognize. Hamas, in other words, used the Oslo Accords which its rejects as a means to take control of the Palestinian parliament.
It now seems that the international community is about to repeat its disastrous decision to permit Hamas to participate in elections. It is really not that hard to understand Hamas's true policies and positions – Hamas makes them crystal clear.
All that is needed is for Erdogan and the rest of the world to listen to the statements of Hamas leaders in the past few days to understand that the movement is more determined than ever to achieve its goals of driving Jews "out of all of Palestine" and replacing Israel with an Islamic state. It has been listening for 32 years. What is it that they do not understand about "DEATH TO ISRAEL"?
Those who are embracing Hamas are only legitimizing its extremist ideology and facilitating its mission of destroying Israel, this time by rising to power through an election backed by the UN, EU and other international parties. It makes one wonder what their real motive is.
Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem, is a Shillman Journalism Fellow at Gatestone Institute.