Ismail Haniyeh, the head of Hamas’ political bureau, delivered a sermon in Gaza City on Aug. 21 to mark Eid al-Adha, the Muslim Feast of Sacrifice, promising residents of the Strip they would soon be free of Israel’s 11-year siege. “This is the result of your determined stand and your struggle,” he told them, adding that Hamas would not pay any “political” price for the resulting humanitarian aid. His remarks are similar to the attitude of Israeli decision-makers about the emerging deal with Hamas, with both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman claiming Israel was not paying a heavy diplomatic price for what it euphemistically terms the “arrangement” with Hamas. Neither side is comfortable admitting to any agreement with the enemy, which by its very nature involves some form of concession.
As part of these concessions, Hamas is committed to obtaining the agreement of all the Palestinian factions in Gaza to a cessation of violence against Israel. While the deal does not entail formal Hamas recognition of the Jewish state, the organization’s leaders will have to explain why they made a deal with the Zionists after years of boasting of their refusal to accept its existence, and why they agreed to abandon the path of jihad.