A hudna (from the Arabic هدنة meaning "calm" or "quiet") is a truce or armistice.[1] It is sometimes mistranslated as "cease-fire". In his medieval dictionary of classical Arabic, the Lisan al-Arab, Ibn al-Manzur defined it as:

"hadana: he grew quiet. hadina: he quieted (transitive or intransitive). haadana: he made peace with. The noun from each of these is hudna."

A famous early hudna was the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah between Muhammad and the Quraysh tribe.

Hudna in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict

In English, the term is most frequently used in reference to a ceasefire agreement in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, particularly one that would involve organizations such as Hamas. The concept of hudna was first introduced to efforts to reduce violence in the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians by a Queen's University Belfast Professor in the period of 1999-2003 as a result of protracted negotiations with the Hamas leadership in the Gaza Strip, West Bank and abroad in countries like Lebanon and Syria. Some others claim that Israeli businessman Eyal Erlich in 2001, after seeing a hudna being declared in order to calm a feud in Jordan (cf. Haaretz, January 2, 2002); introduced the idea, unsuccessfully, that Israel should suggest a mutual hudna as a prelude to a more lasting peace.

Despite the Israeli government's rejection of the idea, in summer 2003—following many years of negotiation and facilitation from European advisors and diplomats along with pressure from Abu Mazen and EgyptHamas and Islamic Jihad unilaterally declared a 45-day ceasefire, or hudna. Its proponents commonly argued that such a cease-fire would allow for important violence reduction and act as a confidence-building measure to make further conflict resolution and peace negotiations possible; its opponents commonly argued that it would be a mere tactical maneuver enabling Palestinian groups to re-group and muster their strength in preparation for further attacks on Israelis, or Israel to continue expanding settlements, blockading Palestinian towns, and arresting members of such groups.[2] The hudna started on June 29, 2003.

In an IDF operation to arrest Hamas militants, a gunfight broke out in which an Israeli soldier and two alleged Hamas militants were killed. Hamas responded with a suicide bombing on August 12, killing one Israeli civilian. Fatah claimed responsibility for a second suicide bombing on August 12 that killed another Israeli citizen. Despite this de facto violation of the hudna, Hamas stated that the cease-fire would continue. Hostilities then escalated: the Israeli army killed Islamic Jihad's Muhammad Seeder on August 14; the Jerusalem bus 2 massacre by Hamas and Islamic Jihad on August 19 killed 23 and wounded 136 people; and Israeli forces killed Hamas's Ismail Abu Shanab on August 21. After the killing of the two high-ranking leaders, Hamas eventually called off the hudna.[3]

In January 2004, senior Hamas leader Abdel Aziz al-Rantissi offered a 10-year hudna in return for complete withdrawal from all territories captured in the Six Day War, the establishment of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza, and the unlimited "right of return" for all Palestinian refugees into Israel. Rantissi gave interviews with European reporters and said the hudna was limited to ten years and represented a decision by the movement because it was "difficult to liberate all our land at this stage; the hudna would however not signal a recognition of the state of Israel."[4] Hamas later repudiated the offer when mentioning it to Arabic media outlets, saying they would never compromise with Israel and would keep fighting until their goals were met; Israel ignored Hamas' posturing since the demand for a Palestinian "right of return" was not going to be granted under any circumstances. Ian Lustick tried in 2010 to revive the hudna notion in an article posted on the Forbes website where he said Israel needed to negotiate with Hamas, but Lustick lied about the terms of the hudna, first by claiming it was supposed to last for a generation (25 years) and by presenting it as a comparative model for the relationship that Israeli Arabs have with Israel's Jewish majority, which left out the specifics of the plan wherein Israel would be replaced by a Muslim-majority "Palestine" under its implementation (a concept Lustick would write in support of for the New York Times in 2013).


  1. Solomon, Erika (June 28, 2009). "Negotiating with Hamas? Try an Islamic Framework". Reuters. Archived from the original on October 5, 2012. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  2. Amayreh, Khaled (August 20, 2003). "Is the hudna over?". Al-Ahram Weekly. Archived from the original on August 23, 2003. Retrieved June 22, 2016.
  3. Avnery, Uri (August 23, 2003). "A Drug for the Addict The End of the Hudna". CounterPunch. Retrieved November 21, 2012.
  4. Tostevin, Matthew (January 26, 2004). "Israel scorns Hamas 10-year truce plan". Reuters. Archived from the original on March 6, 2004. Retrieved November 21, 2012.

See also

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