Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, a leading strategist in confronting Iran over its nuclear program, said in a surprise announcement yesterday he would quit political life after the January 22 national election.
Representatives of Israel and Hamas have begun indirect talks about the implementation of the ceasefire deal that ended the recent violence in Gaza. The negotiations are being led by Egyptian intermediaries in Cairo.
Flag of Israel
Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
The Hamas logo
The Palestinian flag
Hamas is a militant fundamentalist Islamic organization operating in the West Bank and Gaza. The name Hamas is an acronym for "Harakat Al-Muqawama Al-Islamia," or Islamic Resistance Movement in English. The word "hamas" means zeal in Arabic.
Hamas has sections dedicated to religious, military, political and security activities. It runs a social welfare program, and operates a number of schools, hospitals and religious institutions. It also has about 12,500 security personnel.
What are its aims?
Hamas's goal is an Islamic fundamentalist Palestinian state. Its original manifesto advocated the destruction of the state of Israel, and called for the raising of "the banner of Allah over every inch of Palestine."
Current Hamas president Khaled Meshaal has previously said the group would support a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders (prior to the Six-Day War, during which Israeli troops occupied Gaza) , with East Jerusalem as its capital.