The future of Hamas does not look bright. It is true that “ever since Hamas won Palestinian legislative elections in 2006, the U.S. and EU have demanded that Hamas disavow violence and extend de jure recognition of Israel. Hamas’s support for the [peaceful protest] march does not mean it is ready to take such steps—but it is significant nonetheless” (Stock, 2018). Hamas has certainly taken steps toward a more peaceful protest of Israel’s occupation of Palestine, but I am unfortunately not so sure that this approach can last. Hamas has been “backing largely unarmed demonstrations and calling on protestors to maintain the peacefulness of the movement”, which in theory could force Israel to lift its sanctions against the Palestinian people in “five to 10 years”, as has been the case in both South Africa and in India (Stock, 2018). If this peace could be continued, then Hamas could have a real chance at “going legit”. Unfortunately, though, “given the gradual collapse of its economy, as well as rapidly-failing health, water and electrical infrastructure, it is difficult to envision Gaza being able to sustain such protests—absent significant aid from the international community and a real change to the Israeli-Egyptian closure regime” (Stock, 2018). The future of Hizballah, while certainly still unlikely to move toward moderation and complete legitimacy, may have a slightly brighter future. Ever since 1992, Hizballah has had a “reputation—even among those who disagree vehemently with their ideologies—for being a “clean” and capable political party on both the national and local levels”, and more recently it has emerged as a “strong contender in local as well as national elections” (Deeb, 2006). In the year 2000, when the Israeli troops suddenly pulled out of Lebanon, everyone thought that only chaos would fill the void. However, “those predictions proved false as Hizballah maintained order in the border region” (Deeb, 2006). Although there is still undeniable conflict between Israel and Hizballah, some of it violent, “Israel has violated the Blue Line between the countries ten times more frequently than Hizballah has” (Deeb, 2006). This does not mean that Hizballah intends to move toward a completely peaceful approach. In fact, “Hizballah does not regard its participation in government as contradicting its maintenance of a non-state militia… the first item on Hizballah’s 2005 electoral platform pledged to ‘safeguard Lebanon’s independence and protect it from the Israeli menace by safeguarding the Resistance, Hizballah’s military wing and its weapons, in order to achieve total liberation of Lebanese occupied land'” (Deeb, 2006). Therefore, I would expect more violence from Hizballah in the future, despite its move toward slightly greater political legitimacy.
Unfortunately, it seems to me that both Hamas and Hizballah are very unlikely candidates for moderation, and are also unlikely to “go legit” anytime in the near future. As Stock makes clear, “the situation is so desperate and volatile that… any event could ‘spark a big explosion’… if sustained protests fail to improve conditions on the ground, militants in Hamas and other factions invariably will have a stronger hand” (2018). However, if either were to “go legit”, I think that Hizballah may be more successful than Hamas. Schwelder says that political inclusion will “deny radicals portions of their support base and thus produce an overall effect of moderation even if no political groups have substantively changed their normative commitments” (2007). Thus, the move toward politics by both Hamas and Hizbullah is a good sign. Hamas and Hizballah have followed largely similar paths up to this point. Both movements have moved from “pure resistance strategies to mixed strategies emphasizing politics over violence but maintaining paramilitary wings”, they are both “radical movements with sometimes Jihadist tactics”, and they are both “unlikely candidates for moderation and a turn toward” political legitimacy (Brown, 2018). However, I do not believe that they both have to continue to follow the same path. It seems to me that Hizballah may be more likely to “go legit” then Hamas largely because it is currently experiencing a lesser degree of threat from Israel than is Hamas. According to Alahga, “the objective, sociological, and political reality of Lebanon compelled this originally Islamist movement [Hizballah] onto the post-Islamist path, even though such post-Islamism remains inconsistent, selective, and pragmatic”. Hamas, on the other hand, as described above, is in a much more desperate situation than Hizballah and is therefore much less likely to turn to moderation any time soon.