Hamas' deputy politburo chief and former U.S. Muslim Brotherhood branch leader told The Forward this week that his group would view any agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority as more of a hudna—or cease-fire—than a peace treaty in the conventional sense of the word.
"We will not recognize Israel as a state," and any agreement should be seen as paving the way for a relationship similar to that of "Lebanon and Israel or Syria and Israel" rather than one of mutual recognition, trade, and the like, Mousa Abu Marzook said.
This would hold true for Hamas even if the agreement was ratified by a popular "referendum of all Palestinians" he said during a five-and-a-half hour interview with the Jewish-American newspaper.
Marzook also stood firm on a number of Hamas' other perpetual and preposterous non-negotiable pre-conditions, including the fact that any future agreement would have to "include the unqualified right of Palestinians to return to land in what is now Israel." This oft-repeated qualification is a non-starter; as Jonathan Schanzer has said it would be "suicide for Israel."
Marzook was vague when pressed about the intentions behind the hudna strategy—that Hamas could use the time to build up its arsenal and strength for a future attack against Israel. "It's very difficult to say after 10 years what will be on both sides. Maybe my answer right now [about recognizing Israel] is completely different to my answer after 10 years."
His talk of timelines should not be glossed over. As Patrick Sookdheo notes in his seminal work Understanding Islamic Terrorism, Muslims who strictly following Islamic law—as Hamas claims to do—are permitted to make "[t]emporary peace" with the enemy through a treaty. But the limitations on such a treaty are clear: it "is only permissible if it advantageous for the Muslims, and preferably should not last for more than ten years."
"If Muslims were to make a peace treaty that was not in their own interests," Sookhdeo explains, "it would be tantamount to abandoning the war, and so disobeying God's command. Thus peace-making is justifiable only if it is seen as part of the long-term war effort."
If its track record of broken promises is any indication, Hamas will break its end of the bargain even if an agreement is made. And that will be just the start of it. Sookhdeo notes: "it is scarcely an exaggeration to say that in classical Islam peace is considered [nothing more than] a specialised (sic.) kind of war."