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By Shaul Mishal, Avraham Sela

Because it emerged as a challenger to the PLO through the Palestinian Intifada, Hamas (the Islamic Resistance circulation) has been linked within the public brain with terror and violence. Now Israeli specialists exhibit that, opposite to its snapshot, Hamas is largely a social and political circulate, offering vast group companies and responding continuously to political realities via bargaining and tool brokering. The authors raise the veil on Hamas's strategic decision-making equipment at all of the an important crossroads it has faced: the Intifada and the fight with the PLO, the Oslo accords and the institution of the Palestinian nationwide Authority, and the dilemmas surrounding the alternative among absolute Jihad opposed to Israel as opposed to the choice of managed violence.

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2177_e02_p27-48 1/25/00 10:36 AM Page 39 D  D  In retrospect, however, it was this grand PLO strategy that accelerated the thrust toward territorialization and the adjustment of policy to the new circumstances and to “here and now” considerations. In the post- war era, the PLO adopted the “phased strategy,” namely, the establishment of a Palestinian state in a recovered West Bank and Gaza Strip as a “temporary” solution, deferring the realization of the ultimate goal of a state in all of Palestine to an indefinite future.

This inclination toward violence, 2177_e01_p13-26 1/25/00 10:35 AM Page 25 S R  I D  later directed also against the Israeli occupation, might have been influenced by the Egyptian MB’s experience and practices, in addition to the extremely poor social and economic conditions of the Gaza Strip: the incomparable density of population, the scarcity of economic resources, and the reality of refugee camps as the single dominant social factor. Unlike the MB in the Gaza Strip, their colleagues in the West Bank engaged in more moderate and traditional public activities and their attempt at social penetration by institutional means came relatively late.

It was this motivation that underlay the new agenda they offered to Palestinian Islamists, as well as to MB worldwide: jihad for the liberation of Palestine should precede any other defensive holy war.  Contrary to the Islamic Jihad, which prescribed a revolutionary holy war without delay, the mainstream of MB in the Gaza Strip identified with al-MujammaÔ al-Islami, adhered to the reformist concept and refrained from violent activity against Israel. Al-MujammaÔ leaders in Gaza envisioned a transformation of the society from below through the creation of an Islamic space.

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