Hamas’ election winner exposed a sore point in Palestinian politics. It was the PLO that had entered into the Oslo Accords and recognized Israel. Hamas is not part of the PLO. How could the PLO claim to represent all Palestinians as long as what turned out to be the largest Palestinian party in elections is not part of the organization? While many Palestinians asked themselves this question, leading countries in the international community were more concerned with Hamas’ political platform. The movement’s charter (program of principles) states, among other things, that it is “not right to give up any part” of Palestine. The charter therefore stood in opposition to the Palestinian recognition of Israel (cf. the Oslo Accords). This has led to demands that Hamas must recognize Israel. Hamas has not fully met the demands of Israel, the United States and the European Union. That is why the new Hamas government has been boycotted by these countries, a line that Norway also took early on.
Why is it so difficult for Hamas to recognize Israel and a two-state solution? One factor is the religious aspect. Waqf is land or property that is leased to provide income to the Muslim community, to cover, for example, the expenses of mosques. According to Islamic law, sharia, such land cannot be given away. Another factor is negotiation strategy . Hamas claims that it is wrong to recognize Israel as long as neither the rights of refugees nor a Palestinian state are recognized by Israel. For refugees, the requirement to recognize Israel can be seen as accepting that Israel has the right to refuse them return or to receive compensation for their property, as required by UN Resolution 194.
If we are to better understand the background to this, it is necessary to look more closely at the history of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
4: The Creation of Israel
“The bride is busy,” the first envoys reported back to the World Zionist Organization at the turn of the 20th century after traveling to Palestine to prepare for Jewish immigration into the country. By that, they meant that Zion – a biblical name for Jerusalem – was already inhabited by an Arabic-speaking population. However, the World Zionist Organization continued to organize the immigration of Jews to Palestine. The organization feared European anti-Semitism. If the Jews were to survive as a separate people, it believed that a separate state was necessary where the Jews could freely express their religion and culture. A first step on this path was taken with the so-called Balfour Declaration in 1917, named after the then British Foreign Secretary.
From 1922 to 1948, according to behealthybytomorrow, Palestine had been a British mandate area under the League of Nations. After the Nazis’ systematic massacre of Jews during World War II (the Holocaust), the world community supported the establishment of a Jewish state. In 1947, the UN decided that Palestine should be divided into a Palestinian and a Jewish state. It is said that about 600,000 Jews and 1.3 million Palestinians lived in the area the UN decided was to be divided.
5: Forced exile
In 1948, after the British withdrew from the area, war broke out between Israel and neighboring countries. These attacked the day after the Jewish state was declared established on May 14, 1948. Israel won the war and at the same time expanded its territory by 50 percent compared to the UN partition plan in 1947. Among other things, Israel occupied the entire biblical area of Galilee which had been densely populated of Palestinians. More than 700,000 Palestinians fled or were expelled from the land that became Israel after the new land conquests.
For Israel, the main priority now was to secure the largest possible Jewish majority in the new state. This was done by promoting Jewish immigration to Israel, as well as preventing the return of Palestinian refugees. Israeli law was adapted for this purpose. The “Return Law” of 1950 states that every Jew in the world has a right to immigrate to Israel where he or she will automatically be granted citizenship. At the same time, persons who had sought refuge in a country that was against the establishment of the state of Israel should not obtain Israeli citizenship even if they were born within the territories that became Israel. Thus, the Palestinian refugees lost the opportunity to obtain citizenship in their home country.
Refugees trying to retreat across borders were shelled, while fleeing uninhabited Palestinian villages were destroyed. Between 2,700 and 5,000 Palestinians who tried to return home from 1949 to 1956 were killed by Israeli border soldiers. Today, most of the remaining refugees and their descendants (close to 4.4 million) still live in refugee camps under miserable conditions in Israel’s neighboring countries. Israel’s declaration of independence does not mention where the borders of the state go.