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The "Pragmatist" of Hamas By: HonestReporting.com
HonestReporting.com | Wednesday, February 22, 2006

On Saturday, the Hamas terror group, whose charter calls for the destruction of the State of Israel and the murder of Jews, took its place as the majority party of the new Palestinian Authority legislature.

Ismail Haniyeh was chosen as the new Palestinian Authority Prime Minister. Much of the media is describing this terrorist leader as "pragmatic" or "moderate."  

The Washington Post  offered this profile of Haniyeh:

Born in Gaza's Shati refugee camp, Haniyeh graduated from Gaza City's Islamic University in 1987 with a degree in Arabic literature and became a close associate of Hamas founder Sheik Ahmed Yassin.

Haniyeh was expelled by Israel to south Lebanon in 1992, returned to Gaza a year later and became the dean of the Islamic University. In 1998, he took charge of Yassin's office.

A pragmatist, he served as a liaison between Hamas and Palestinian Authority, established in 1994 and dominated by the rival Fatah movement.

The New York Times describes him as "considered less radical than others" and he "held a number of top administrative positions at the Islamic University in Gaza City."

The BBC says: "But he is considered a moderate in the movement's ranks whose position on the list was intended to appeal to mainstream Palestinian voters.... "

Associated Press and Reuters similarly describe him as a "pragmatist" with an administrative background.

Who is Ismail Haniyeh?

Haniyeh, has been one of most senior Hamas leaders in Gaza for over ten years.  He served as bureau chief for Hamas head Sheikh Ahmad Yassin, but was given a higher leadership position after Yassin's death. He was arrested several times and deported to Lebanon for terrorist activities.

In 2003, Hamas took credit for a horrific bus bombing in which 23 Israelis were killed. In response, Haniyeh was placed on Israel's most wanted list. He narrowly escaped an Israeli attack as he was meeting with Yassin and other terror leaders.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library:

Haniyeh has always favored violence over diplomacy, and said the Hamas' wins in the municipal elections in 2005 were proof that the majority of Palestinians support terrorism against Israel.

The Hamas Charter

There is no indication that Haniyeh is interested in changing the charter of the organization he had helped to lead for many years.

As Reuters  reported:

They (the United States and others in the international community) are threatening to cut off aid to any government run by Hamas unless the group renounces violence and abandons its charter commitment to Israel's destruction. "These demands are unjust to the Palestinian people," Haniyeh said.


There is also no indication that Haniyeh thinks Hamas should give up terrorism. On the contrary, after the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza he was asked if Hamas would give up armed struggle. Haniyeh had this to say:

"These weapons liberated the land and by these weapons, we will continue the liberation process."

Honoring Agreements

Both the Oslo Accords and the Middle East Road Map require the Palestinians to recognize Israel and renounce terror. There are those who say that Haniyeh will accept these agreements since they have been signed by the Palestinian Authority. However, all he has said is that:

"Agreements that harm our people we will leave out. Agreements that serve our people's interest we will keep."

Today, there is no evidence Haniyeh has indicated he is in favor of changing the Hamas charter, rejecting violence, or recognizing Israel. Without these basic steps, it is difficult to see how anyone can accurately define him as "pragmatic."

If your local media describe Haniyeh as "pragmatic" or "moderate" ask them on what basis they are using those terms.

Comments to: The Washington Post, The New York Times, The Associated Press and Reuters.

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