Is Hamas separating itself from the Brotherhood?

Mohammed El-Said
4 Min Read
Leader of Hamas’ political bureau, Khaled Meshaal (AFP File Photo)

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) released its new political declaration on Monday, announcing cutting any administrative or organisational relationship with the Egypt-based and now-banned Muslim Brotherhood group.

After nearly two years of working on its draft, the leader of Hamas in exile, Khaled Meshaal, released the new declaration of Hamas in a press conference in the Qatari capital, Doha.

While Hamas’ 1988 fundamental convention charter called for taking over all Palestinian lands from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea, including present-day Israel, the new released document says that the movement accepts the 1967 borders as the basis for a Palestinian state, with Jerusalem as its capital.

In contrast to the second article of its current fundamental convention—which says that Hamas considers itself a part of the Muslim Brotherhood International Organisation and that Hamas is the organisation’s wing in Palestinian lands—the new charter says that the jihadist movement is a national Palestinian resistance movement and is not affiliated with any foreign organisation.

Professor of political science at Cairo University Hassan Nafaa told Daily News Egypt that the new document is generally “related to what has happened in the Arab region after the so-called Arab Spring and the decline of Islamist expansion.”

Nafaa believes that the relationship between Hamas and Egypt is very important to both sides. “While Egypt has several impact tools and is controlling the Rafah border crossing, it believes there is no way to ignore Hamas,” he explained.

Although the administrative separation from the Brotherhood was announced, Meshaal affirmed the “ideological relationship” between the Brotherhood and Hamas.

“We are part of the Muslim Brotherhood school. And before being called Hamas, the movement was known as the Palestinian wing of the Brotherhood,” Meshaal asserted.

While Egyptian newspapers and analysts claim Hamas’ new charter tries to reach out to Egypt and Arab Gulf states that consider the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, Palestinian political analyst Taha Al-Khateeb believes that the document expresses the real political stance of Hamas and the brotherhood and does not mean Hamas is reaching out to Egypt.

Al-Khateeb stated that Islamist movements all over the world are ideologically affiliated with the ideology of the Brotherhood, and “Meshaal didn’t lie when saying that Hamas is organisationally separated from the Brotherhood, because, actually, all the 84 groups of the Brotherhood in 84 countries are independent and separated but ideologically affiliated to it.”

“Hamas was pressured by regional and international powers to release the new charter, especially from Turkey and Qatar, with the advice of the former British prime minister Tony Blair,” Al-Khateeb told Daily News Egypt.

The Israeli side denounced the charter, calling it a “smokescreen”. “Hamas is attempting to fool the world, but it will not succeed,” said David Keyes, a spokesperson for Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as reported by Israeli media.

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin in 1987 during the First Intifada. Yassin was a Palestinian cleric who became an activist in local branches of the Muslim Brotherhood after dedicating his early life to Islamic scholarship in Cairo.

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Mohammed El-Said is the Science Editor for the Daily News Egypt with over 8 years of experience as a journalist. His work appeared in the Science Magazine, Nature Middle East, Scientific American Arabic Edition, SciDev and other regional and international media outlets. El-Said graduated with a bachelor's degree and MSc in Human Geography, and he is a PhD candidate in Human Geography at Cairo University. He also had a diploma in media translation from the American University in Cairo.
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