Hamas regards the temporary cease-fire as a tahdiya and not a hudna. A tahdiya - "a period of calm" - is used by Hamas to describe a simple cease-fire. A hudna implies recognition of the other party's actual existence, without acknowledging its legitimacy.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera (April 26, 2008), Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal clarified that for Hamas, a tahdiya is "a tactic in conflict management." He added that it "is not unusual for the resistance...to escalate sometimes and to retreat a bit sometimes as the tide does....The tahdiya creates a formulation that will force Israel...to remove the siege...and if it happens it will be a remarkable achievement."
Official sources in Israel have explained that Hamas' interest in a lull in the fighting is a result of its "distress." But the organization did not experience "distress." Hamas has introduced and maintained law and order in Gaza, strengthened its overall control, suppressed opposition, and achieved broad popular support for its policies.
An important objective for Hamas is winning the Palestinian presidential election, which will be held when Mahmoud Abbas finishes his term of office in December. The lull will permit Hamas to prepare the field to take over from Abbas. Hamas is liable to claim that, according to Palestinian law, administrative authority should be passed on to the chairman of the parliament, who is a Hamas leader, or should be decided by the parliament itself, where Hamas has an overwhelming majority.
One diplomatic consequence of the tahdiya will be increasing pressure on Israel to accept a future reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah. That could lead to increasing demands on Israel to negotiate a permanent status arrangement with a joint Hamas-Fatah government, while Hamas remains committed to its political program of the elimination of Israel.
The cease-fire also grants Hamas a golden opportunity to expand its military build-up for the next round of terror and violence. Emulating Hizbullah's strategy, Hamas is striving to acquire longer-range and more destructive missiles to be used for deterrence and as a sword on Israel's neck.
To view the full Issue Brief, click here.
June 22, 2008
The Hamas Interest in the Tahdiya (Temporary Truce) with Israel
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