By Patrick Goodenough
Jan 29, 2006
(CNSNews.com) - A Hamas leader said late Thursday that the terrorist group's victory in the Palestinian legislative elections would "complete the liberation of other parts of Palestine."
Ismail Haniyeh, addressing a victory press conference, did not elaborate, but his pledge echoes the covenant adopted by Hamas at its founding in 1988.
"The day that enemies usurp part of Muslim land, jihad becomes the individual duty of every Muslim," reads article 15 of the Hamas Charter. "In face of the Jews' usurpation of Palestine, it is compulsory that the banner of jihad be raised."
Elsewhere, the document says Hamas will work "to raise the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."
Scholars say that in certain traditions of Islam, Muslims believe they have an obligation to win back any territory once held by Islam and subsequently lost to the faith.
"Any territory that comes under Islamic rule cannot be de-Islamized," according to Prof. Moshe Sharon of the Institute of Asian and African Studies at Hebrew University.
"Even if at one time or another, the [non-Muslim] enemy takes over the territory that was under Islamic rule, it is considered to be perpetually Islamic," he wrote in a 2003 article.
All of present-day Israel and the Palestinian self-rule areas were under Muslim domination for most of the period between the Arab conquest in the seventh century and World War I, when the British defeated the Ottoman Turks in 1917.
"No believing Muslim, in the Hamas conception, can be reconciled to Jewish sovereignty in the Middle East," Jerusalem Post editor-in-chief David Horovitz wrote on the paper's online edition Thursday.
"To deny that, for Hamas, is blasphemy."
The objective of liberating "all of Palestine" is not exclusive to Hamas, however.
Haniyeh's vow is also in line with the Palestine Liberation Organization's 1974 program to liberate territory in phases until it controls "the whole of the soil" of the Palestinian "homeland."
Yasser Arafat, in both his capacity as P.L.O./Fatah leader and Palestinian Authority (P.A.) chairman, frequently referred to the goal of raising the flag of Palestine over the walls of Jerusalem.
P.A. figures have also spoken of the territory they are fighting for including Israel's other major cities, including the coastal population centers of Haifa and Jaffa, today a suburb of Tel Aviv.
"We have announced a number of times that from a religious point of view Palestine from the sea to the river is Islamic," the P.A.-appointed mufti Sheikh Ikrama Sabri said on Palestinian TV in January 2001.
"From the river to the sea" in the regional context refers to the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. All of the State of Israel lies between the two.
Since the signing of the 1993 Oslo accords, and especially since the outbreak of the second intifada in 2000 and the establishment of Fatah's al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade, Israeli security officials say the lines between Hamas and Fatah have increasingly blurred, particularly with regard to terrorism.
Critics of the Palestinian factions say they share not only tactics, but also an ultimate objective.
"The one positive outcome of Hamas' victory is that this reality of the joint-Hamas/Fatah goal of Israel's destruction can no longer be ignored and must be confronted," Zionist Organization of America president Morton Klein said in reaction to Thursday's election outcome.
"Hopefully now, Israel, the U.S., and Europe will implement policies dealing with the newly realized reality - that the Palestinian Arabs' goal is not simply a Palestinian Arab state, is not peace with Israel, but is clearly and only Israel's destruction."
Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy is one of a number of analysts who sees a link between Hamas' victory and Israel's withdrawal from Gaza last summer.
"The promise that more attacks on Israel will compel her to relinquish still more land and political authority to those who perpetrate them is the explicit platform on which Hamas has come to power," he wrote Thursday.
"As a result, we must now anticipate that Hamas will seek to deliver on its promise. The territory under its control will become a safe-haven for terror against both Israel and the West more generally, including the United States."