Deutsche Welle Corrects: Hamas Doesn’t Accept Two States

CAMERA’s Israel office has prompted corrections at Deutsche Welle, in both English and German, of an article which erroneously stated that many Hamas members, including senior political leader Ismail Haniyeh, accept the two-state solution.

The May 17 article by Kersten Knipp (“Amid Israel-Gaza conflict, a two-state solution seems utopian to some‘) erred: 

Thus, the PLO limited its future state to the boundaries of the occupied territories.

Some members of the militant group and party Hamas — including Ismail Haniyeh, the current chairman of the political bureau — joined in, too, but stipulated that a referendum must be held among the Palestinian people before the organization would endorse it. (Emphasis added.)

In fact, Hamas has not limited its aspirations to a Palestinian state on the West Bank, Gaza and eastern Jerusalem. To the contrary, the only Hamas official that the article identified supposedly in favor of a Palestinian state on this formula clearly said in 2010

Let me reassure you, brothers and sisters, that the occupation has no future on the land of Palestine. When I say “the land of Palestine,” I am not referring [only] to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and Jerusalem. When I say that the occupation has no future on the land of Palestine, I refer to Palestine from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River, and from Rosh Hanikra to Rafah.

Haniya took over as head of Hamas political chief in 2017 at the same time as the organization passed a new policy document, “A Document of General Principles and Policies.” The policy affirms:  “Hamas rejects any alternative to the full and complete liberation of Palestine, from the river to the sea.” 

The document, which may be viewed in its entirety here, includes the following:

Palestine, which extends from the River Jordan in the east of the Mediterranean in the west, and from Ras Al-Naqurah in the north to Umm Al-Rashrash in the south, is an integral territorial unit. It is the land and the home of the Palestinian people.

Rejecting Israel’s presence in any borders, the document continues:

The establishment of “Israel” is entirely illegal and contravenes the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people and goes against their will and the will of the Ummah; it is also in violation of human rights that are guaranteed by international conventions, foremost among them is the right to self-determination.

19. There shall be no recognition of the legitimacy of the Zionist entity. 

Furthermore, it states: “There is no alternative to a fully sovereign Palestinian State on the entire national Palestinian soil, with Jerusalem as its capital.”

In response to communication from CAMERA, Deutsche Welle editors commendably and forthrightly corrected the article in both English and German. The amended article now more accurately reports:

Hamas had said in a 2017 paper that it could foresee a national discussion about a Palestinian state based on the borders that were in place before the Six-Day War in 1967. But the very same paper also said there was no alternative to a fully sovereign state spanning the entirety of Palestinian territory, with Jerusalem as the capital. The latter would practically rule out coexistence with Israel.

(Of course, as Haniyeh made clear, and as the organization’s policy document explicitly states, by “Palestinian territory,” Hamas means “from the River Jordan in the east of the Mediterranean in the west, and from Ras Al-Naqurah [Rosh Hanikra] in the north to Umm Al-Rashrash [Eilat] in the south.” Though Deutsche Welle’s amended text does not spell out the point that Hamas considers all of Israel to be “Palestinian territory,” the added sentence about the implausibility of coexistence under Hamas’ position provides critical context.)

In addition, the following note alerting readers to the change was appended to the bottom of the article:

This article was changed on May 28, 2021, to include mention of a 2017 paper in which Hamas took a position on creation of a Palestinian state. It has been translated from German by Jon Shelton.