Photo Credit: N. Aaron Troodler
N. Aaron Troodler

It appears the prospects for peace in the Middle East just got dimmer. With the election of Yahya Sinwar as the new leader of Hamas, the terrorist organization sent a blatant message to the international community that it has absolutely no interest in pursuing peace with Israel. By elevating an individual who stringently adheres to the core values of martyrdom and jihad against Israel to its top leadership position, Hamas signaled yet again that peaceful coexistence with Israel is antithetical to its fundamental mission.

Sinwar represents everything that is wrong with Hamas and he embodies the hate-filled principles and philosophies that are the bedrock of this terrorist group. One need not look any further than the Hamas Charter, adopted in August 1988, to understand what this radical group is about and what it believes in.


According to Article Seven of the Hamas Charter, “The hour of judgment shall not come until the Muslims fight the Jews and kill them,” and “Israel will exist, and will continue to exist, until Islam abolishes it.” Article Eight speaks to the primary focus on its holy war against the Jews when it states, “Allah is its goal, the Prophet its model to be followed, the Koran its constitution, jihad its way, and death for the sake of Allah its loftiest desire.”

Article Twelve posits that “Nationalism, as seen by the Islamic Resistance Movement, is part of the [Islamic] religious creed. There is nothing that speaks more eloquently and more profoundly of nationalism than the following: when the enemy tramples Muslim territory, waging jihad and confronting the enemy become a personal duty of every Muslim man and Muslim woman.”

In a direct repudiation of international efforts to achieve peace in the region, Article Thirteen sets forth that “There is no solution to the Palestinian problem except by jihad. Initiatives, proposals and international conferences are a waste of time and a farce.”

The tenets of the Hamas Charter have ignited a perpetual war against Israel, one in which Palestinians have been led to believe that murdering Jews is a religious and societal obligation. Leaders of Hamas such as Sinwar have incited an entire generation of Palestinians to rise up against Israel through their depraved deeds and their dangerous discourse.

The diligence with which Sinwar assails Israel and vilifies Jews is appalling. After being detained in Israeli prisons for over two decades due to his terrorist activities, he was one of 1,000 Palestinian prisoners released in exchange for the return of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier abducted by Palestinian terrorists and held in captivity for five years. Upon his release, Sinwar’s first public statement called on Palestinians to keep working to ensure the release of all Palestinian prisoners, regardless of the cost.

In the mid-1980’s, even prior to the formal establishment of Hamas, Sinwar played an integral role in founding the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, essentially a security service that sought out Palestinians who were believed to be working with Israel and executed them for their actions.

With his belligerent approach to Israel and his close ties to Iran, the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, Sinwar was in the international spotlight long before his recent election as Hamas leader. In fact, in August 2015 then-Secretary of State John Kerry issued Executive Order 13284, in which he deemed Sinwar a “Specifically Designated Global Terrorist” because he “committed, or poses a significant risk of committing, acts of terrorism that threaten the security of U.S. nationals or the national security, foreign policy, or economy of the United States.”

Now that Sinwar is leading Hamas – the entity that rules Gaza and the approximately 1.8 million Palestinians who reside there and that has been designated a terrorist organization by the United States, Israel, and the European Union – the question is what impact his ascension will have on the peace process. It remains to be seen how Sinwar will interact with the Palestinian Authority, which governs between 1.7 million and 2.6 million Palestinians who live in the areas referred to by much of the world as the West Bank.

The reunification of Gaza and the West Bank is critical to any lasting and sustainable peace agreement that may one day be reached. Talks between Israel and the leadership of the Palestinian Authority are in essence worthless if the PA cannot speak for the 1.8 million Palestinians in Gaza, which it currently does not.

If Hamas continues promulgating its messages of jihad, firing rockets at Israel, and plotting deadly terrorist attacks on Jews, the peace process will remain just a figment of our imagination. There is no realistic expectation that a militant hardliner like Sinwar will lead Hamas in a more moderate direction and make any genuine effort to reconcile the group’s differences with the Palestinian Authority. There is a giant chasm between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority, and Sinwar apparently has no desire to try and bridge the divide.

Absent a situation where PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas can sit at the negotiating table and honestly assert he truly represents all Palestinians, bringing a sense of peace and stability to the Middle East region will remain a mere fantasy. Instead of taking one step forward, Hamas has taken two giant steps back with Yahya Sinwar’s placement at the head of the Hamas hierarchy.


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N. Aaron Troodler is the principal of Red Apple Strategies, LLC, a public relations and strategic communications firm, and has extensive experience in the Jewish non-profit world. Follow him on Twitter: @troodler.