22 Pages

Menachem Klein

Hamas (meaning zeal or enthusiasm, the acronym for Harakat alMuqawama al-Islamiyya, The Islamic Resistance Movement) was founded in December 1987 at the very beginning of the Intifada, the Palestinian uprising in the West Bank and Gaza Strip against the government of Israel. Its ideology was crystallized during the first months of the movement's existence and published in its charter (mithaq) in August 1988.1 The mithaq was Hamas' preemptive response to the PLO's forthcoming political program, which was adopted, along with the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, in November 1988 by the 19th Palestinian National Council (PNC). In this Declaration, the PLO accepted United Nations Resolution 181 of 29 November 1947 and its call to divide British mandated Palestine into two states, one Jewish and the other Arab. Such an acceptance marked an implicit recognition of Israel. The political program went even further, explicitly mentioning UN Security Council Resolution 242, which stipulates the right of all states in the region to live in peace and security within secure and recognized boundaries. These moves toward compromise were quickly and totally rejected by Hamas.