Originally published on Sun October 28, 2012 7:48 am
The Emir of Qatar visited the Gaza Strip today. It is the first time a head of state visited the Hamas-controlled territory since Egypt and Israel instituted a blockade in 2007. Hamas, remember, is considered a terrorist organization by the United States.
The Islamist movement Hamas, which rules Gaza, is a house divided. Its leaders say there are divisions among the ranks as they try to grapple with where to push the movement: toward moderation or a continued commitment to armed resistance against Israel.
Omar Shaban, a Gaza-based political analyst, wonders where Hamas is headed in the next two to three years. He says the changes in the region after the Arab Spring not only shook the world, but they also forced groups like Hamas to reassess where they stand, in terms of old alliances and future direction.
In two interviews, today, NPR's Robert Siegel got reaction from Hamas and the Israeli government over a prisoner swap deal that freed Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and 1,027 Palestinian prisoners.
When Robert asked Osama Hamdan, a senior official from the Hamas international relations department, what the deal meant for future relations between Hamas and Israel, Hamdan said it "depends on the Israeli side."
Hamas' Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi Hamad told NPR's Robert Siegel that the Islamic political party has accepted a two-state solution that respects the 1967 borders.
Robert asked Hamad in a very straight forward way: "If Israel were to accept a two-state solution in which Palestine would be in Gaza and the West Bank and have its capital in Jerusalem, is that an acceptable aim that Hamas is striving for or is that in and of itself insufficient because there would still be a state of Israel?"