Dr Tamimi, of the Muslim Brotherhood/MAB who also is said by Louise Ellman MP to be an advisor to the terrorist islamist group Hamas seems to be claiming on the Moral Maze that the Hamas Covenant is being redrafted.
Given that the Hamas Covenant contains the following:
“The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews.” (related by al-Bukhari and Moslem).
the removal of such genocidal rhetoric would be an important and necessary indicator that it was serious about pursuing the goal of establishing a viable self governing parallel state to Israel, and was genuinely interested in being accepted as a legitimate political organisation.
If, on the other hand, Hamas is in the process of following the Muslim Brotherhood route, toning down its public rhetoric only for the purpose of becoming a gradualist rather than revolutionary theocratic totalitarian organisation, so as better to desecularise Palestinian society, that is a rather different matter.
As well as being a terrorist group, Hamas is a powerful social and political organisation. Its success has not simply been a direct an organic reaction to the turmoil produced by the violence both of Israeli occupation and the second intifada. It has also been its indirect beneficiary. The Palestinian economy has suffered significantly from its economic isolation following the second intifada, and the lack of enthusiasm for the services of Palestinian workers in the Gulf states as a product of support for Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War. The success of Hamas owes a great deal to its function in providing welfare services to an impoverished population, in the absence of a competent, uncorrupt and effective alternative. But that social function has been a vector for the transformation of the Palestinian liberation struggle from a nationalist into an Islamist one.
There is, as one might imagine, something of a power struggle, both politically and militarily between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. The British Government is beginning already to establish contacts with Hamas. Given a choice between achieving power through military means and electoral ones, the democratic path must be very appealing at this moment.
Peace in Israel/Palestine is not simply a matter of a ceasefire. It requires the long-term building of two sovereign, secure, economically interdependent states. Were Israel or Palestine to fall into the hands of theologues, mutually committed to each other’s destruction in the long term, that peace would ultimately be little more than a mirage.
The promise of democracy is that the requirement at regular intervals to deliver real, rather than purely spiritual, benefits to the electorate produces a moderating and educative influence. However, if theocratic ideals trump economic benefits, that promise is merely illusory.