Middle East, News

Did the West make a mistake in labelling Hamas as a terrorist organisation?

There is now a strong conviction among western and Middle Eastern countries that the cost of containing Hamas is far greater than the cost of excluding it.

This realisation brings into question the legal dimensions of categorising Hamas as a terrorist organisation in the United States as well as the European Union. Thus, these countries are considering opening up a dialogue with Hamas and listening to its concerns; ultimately, this threatens the transparent nature of the governments of the countries in question. In fact, when western countries decide to meet with Hamas, such efforts are often secret and do not bear any concrete results aside from strengthening the pragmatists within Islamic movements.

The decision to categorise Hamas as a terrorist organisation came as a result of pro-Israel pressure on the US administration and the EU. Israel’s justification for the designation at that time was the need to counter suicide operations by the resistance movement. What the US needs to consider now is Hamas’s decision to halt all suicide operations more than ten years ago, a decision to which they have remained committed as a movement. What is more is that the Israeli leadership has started to flirt with Hamas, so to speak, by suggesting the need to communicate with the Palestinian resistance movement. This new-born sentiment has been expressed by a number of Israeli officials, including President Reuven Rivlin during a trip to the north of Israel on 17 May.

Are the United States and the European Union trying to be more Zionist than Israel, which has done everything in its power to place Hamas on the terrorism watch list? I believe that Hamas as a movement and Palestinian democracy have both been exposed to a great deal of historical injustice which contradicts western values. To remain in the wrong is harmful and to take a step back is far better, as there is still time to consider Hamas and the Palestinian resistance as a rightful approach to a new political path that emphasise national rights as they have been determined by international law and international resolutions.

I believe that the German foreign minister had the intention of meeting up with the Hamas leadership when he visited Gaza recently, but his country’s decision to place the political movement on the terrorism watch list made this an impossibility. This confirms beyond any doubt that the decision to weaken Middle Eastern politics is undermined because Hamas is well-regarded by many in the Arab and Muslim world, as well by many elsewhere.

Hamas’s current situation is like any other political movement in the world in that it has many different schools of thought and competing factions. As such, continuing to exclude Hamas only encourages the group’s more extremist factions; this does not help the cause of those who want stability and security for the Middle East. Perhaps Tony Blair came to this realisation quite late after meeting with Khaled Meshaal.

What is occurring in the region as of late only encourages extremism and terrorism as it is embodied by the emergence of groups such as ISIS. Western countries must be wary of the consequences if they continue to break the will of oppressed peoples. They need to work towards building strong, stable and secure modern states that abide by sovereign law.

Resource: Middle East Monitor, June 16, 2015


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