I have long maintained that a great deal can be discovered about the motives and goals of radical Islamic terrorists by studying Islamic religious sources — an idea which most people, particularly those in positions of influence, continue to disregard. But here is more evidence of its truth: Hamas is proposing a 10-year truce in exchange for Israel's withdrawal to its 1967 borders. What is the thinking behind this offer? Is it a generous-minded attempt to restore peace and stability to the region? After all, after ten years of giving peace a chance it will be hard to resume hostilities, won't it?
Maybe it will, but Hamas's offer is actually in full accord with Islamic tradition and law. The Shafi'i school of Muslim jurisprudence, which is influential among Hamas members, teaches that "if Muslims are weak, a truce may be made for ten years if necessary, for the Prophet (Allah bless him and give him peace) made a truce with the Quraysh for that long, as is related by Abu Dawud" ('Umdat as-Salik, o9.16).
Note that this can only be done if "Muslims are weak." The same legal manual also quotes this verse of the Qur'an: "So do not be fainthearted and call for peace, when it is you who are the uppermost" (Sura 47:35). So it isn't likely that Hamas would be calling for a truce at all if it felt that it was in a position of strength. "Interests that justify making a truce are such things as Muslim weakness because of lack of numbers or materiel, or the hope of an enemy becoming Muslim . . ." ('Umdat as-Salik, o9.16).
The bottom line: Hamas is feeling the heat and wants a truce in order to regroup and emerge in a stronger position. The story is from Al-Bawaba, with thanks to the many who sent it to me:
A senior Hamas official has said the movement could declare a 10-year truce with Israel if the Jewish state pulled out from territory occupied since 1967.
Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi told Reuters late Sunday that Hamas had reached the conclusion that it was "difficult to liberate all our land at this stage, so we accept a phased liberation."
"We accept a state in the West Bank, including Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. We propose a 10-year truce in return for [Israeli] withdrawal and the establishment of a state," he told the agency in a telephone interview from the Gaza Strip.
At least he's honest. The acceptance of a state on these terms is just part of a "phased liberation" which he still hopes will encompass "all our land" -- i.e., all of Israel. This is no two-state solution.
Rantissi said that any such new proposal would not mean that Hamas recognized Israel or indicate the end of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Rantissi conveyed the truce could last 10 years, though "not more than 10 years."
Why not more than ten years? "It is not permissible to stipulate longer than that . . ." ('Umdat as-Salik, o9.16).
Furthermore, Rantissi said discussion within Hamas on accepting a state in just the West Bank and Gaza was not new, but that "the movement has taken a decision on this."
Moreover, Rantissi said he did not expect Israel to respond favorably to the new suggestion, "when it has rejected the Palestinian Authority's offer for less land than what we are proposing."