Hamas between violence and pragmatism
Walther, Marc A.
Baylouny, Anne Marie
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Far from being solely a terrorist organization, Hamas is a heterogeneous movement, which has situational awareness and uses violence or political participation after a cost-benefit analysis. Hamas' main objective is to stay in power and preserve its identity. Hamas is unlikely to publicly reject its ideology. Two opinions about Hamas are prevalent. On the one hand, Hamas is assessed as a radical terrorist organization. The policy implication of this first opinion is simple: Hamas cannot be reformed and will continue to use violence. Therefore, Hamas must be neutralized. On the other hand, Hamas is assessed as a social movement, which does not necessarily need to use violence. This school of thoughts assesses Hamas as a movement that can learn to refrain from violence. The policy implication of this position is that Hamas' inclusion in politics supports the process of moderation of Hamas into a non-violent organization. Both policies proved either to be ineffective or imply risks. This thesis asserts a middle position. Hamas' decisions to act depend on two factors. First, its internal situation is of importance. Second, and even more important, the political and situational circumstances on the ground in Palestine have a strong impact on Hamas. The middle position implies that the situation on the ground can be influenced in a way that may give Hamas little or no incentive to use violence.
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