The fine line between “Armed Resistance” and “Terrorism”

Palestinian civilians flee during an Israeli strike on the Gaza strip town of Beit Lahia in January 2009. (AFP photo)

Palestinian civilians flee during an Israeli strike on the Gaza strip town of Beit Lahia in January 2009. (AFP photo)

Hamas demands that their peace agreement with Fatah be amended to include the Palestinian right to “resistance” against Israel. This was triggered by the Goldstone Report. Historically, what does Hamas they mean by resistance? Can Fatah accept such language? Does this mean the end of the peace deal? Most importantly, in a conflict of this kind, are armed resistance and terrorism the same thing? (Al Jazeera)

The U.N. Human Rights Council’s endorsement of the Goldstone Report has had many unintended consequences, one of the most important being its complication of the agreement between Hamas and Fatah. An agreement was to be signed between the two on October 25-26 in Egypt but yesterday Hamas released a statement stalling the deal.

“The Palestinian factions will not sign the accord … unless the text includes the principles and the rights of Palestinians, especially that of resisting the Zionist occupation,” said Khaled Abdel Majid, a Damascus-based spokesman for Hamas.

Hamas was upset that the document made no reference to the Palestinian struggle against Israel. There is no mistaking what “resistance” means to all of us watching the conflict, especially in the U.S. Resistance means the bombings and attacks on civilians that we often call terrorism, though toward the end of the Bush Administration Condoleeza Rice tried a softer tone. Earlier this month, Ahmad Yousef, a foreign affairs advisor to democratically elected Palestinian PM Ismail Haniya reiterated that while Hamas was willing to sit down and discuss issues like the Palestinian Right of Return and traditional Palestinian borders, “However, we will not relinquish our right to resistance.”

Palestinian women walk past a destroyed house in the Israeli-bombed Jabalia neighborhood. (AFP photo)

Palestinian women walk past a destroyed house in the Israeli-bombed Jabalia neighborhood. (AFP photo)

Fatah, though more moderate, also endorsed the Palestinian right to resist during a recent conference, a move Israel quickly denounced. Israeli Defense Minister, Ehud Barak said “The rhetoric that we have heard from the Fatah conference is disturbing and not very promising.” A union that includes resistance in its rhetoric does not bode well for Israeli peace talks. That may not be a risk that Fatah is willing to take. It is certainly not something the U.S. wants to see. On Saturday, U.S. envoy to the Middle East, George Mitchell, told chief of Egyptian intelligence, Gen. Omar Suleiman that the agreement was poorly timed and that the United States could not support any agreement that would hurt Palestinian-Israeli peace talks. An agreement embracing “armed resistance,” “resistance,” or “terrorism” would do just that.

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