Honors Capstone Project
Date of Submission
Citizenship and Public Affairs
Capstone Prize Winner
Won Capstone Funding
International and Area Studies | Other International and Area Studies
“Peace in the Middle East.” As a child, I had always assumed this phrase was in reference to a specific conflict or war that would soon be over; however, peace in the Middle Eastnow seems to be a process of huge proportions with no visible end. Numerous conflicts encompass the problems in the Middle East, most of which have been exacerbated by ineffectual and biased American foreign policy. Of these conflicts, one of the most long-standing and heartbreaking is between the Israelis and Palestinians. With the unequivocal support of the US, Israelhas largely been able to pursue whatever policy it desired, while the Palestinians were left with a corrupt “government” that had no clout in the international community, especially with Israel. For decades, and through two intifadas, the Palestinian people have suffered through oppression and tremendous human rights violations, all the while expecting that the international community, once they realized the truth behind what was going on, would do something about their plight. However, after failed peace processes andIsrael’s further incursion into Palestinian areas, the Palestinian people democratically voted for change, for Hamas.
Even thoughIsraeland many Western countries dismiss Hamas as nothing more than a “terrorist” organization, Hamas has done tremendous good for the Palestinian people, in way of providing much needed social services. Therefore, after briefly describing the situation that the Palestinians live in, the first sections of my paper discuss what Hamas stands for, how the group has risen to power, and why Palestinians support Hamas.
Once Hamas was elected, the group immediately faced incredible challenges. Thus, the next portion of my thesis analyzes the challenges facing Hamas now that they have shifted from opposition group to the governing party. Besides internal disputes over policy, Hamas must find a way to work with Fatah, control security in the occupied territories, and find funding in the wake of the economic boycott placed on Hamas by many Western countries.
Finally, I discuss what implications Hamas’s electoral victory will have on the conflict betweenIsraelandPalestine. Initially, I focus on what the repercussions will be for Hamas’s own policies and how Hamas has changed since the elections, as well as what changes Fatah will likely make. Then, I talk about the prospects for a peace agreement with Hamas in power. Finally, I make the claim that Hamas would be a capable governing party, given international support and the lifting of the boycott. Furthermore, I argue that the main impediment to peace is not that Hamas is a “terrorist” group or thatIsraelhas been building a separation barrier, but that theUSis unwilling to pressureIsraelto enter into negotiations with Hamas, with an honest ambition to make peace.
Freitag, Heather, "Hamas: From “Terrorist” Organization to Governing Party The Implications of Hamas’s 2006 Electoral Victory" (2007). Syracuse University Honors Program Capstone Projects. 591.
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