Hamas severs ties with Brotherhood, recognizes '67 borders



Mon, 01 May 2017 - 10:20 GMT


Mon, 01 May 2017 - 10:20 GMT

Khaled Meshaal - File Photo

Khaled Meshaal - File Photo

CAIRO – 2 May 2017: In a momentous move, Palestinian Islamist group Hamas released Monday a new manifesto retracting all previous claims for Israel's destruction as well as outlining the end of its affiliation with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Khaled Mashaal, head of Hamas’ political office, delivered a speech from a hotel in Doha to review the movement’s manifesto, composed of 42 articles, and the general principles and policies it promotes. The speech was made in the presence of a number of Hamas leaders.

Mashaal revealed that it took a year to prepare the new document and amend the group’s longstanding ideology.

“Hamas adopted a new approach characterized by flexibility, development, renewal and moderation without prejudice to the principles of the Palestinian nation,” Mashal said.

The end of affiliation with the Brotherhood?
In 1987, Hamas was founded by Sheikh Ahmed Yassin and a number of Palestinian Muslim Brotherhood members including Abdel Aziz El Rantisy and Mahmoud El-Zahar.

In 1993, the Covenant of the Islamic Resistance Movement, as 'Hamas' translates, acknowledged in its second article that the Palestinian movement was a part of the International Muslim Brotherhood and its headquarters were in Palestine. The convention also praised the Brotherhood’s approach in different fields.

Throughout its history, the Muslim Brotherhood, which was founded in Egypt in 1928 by Hassan al-Banna, was supportive of Hamas, promoting it as an offshoot of the movement. Hamas shared with the Brotherhood an attitude that completely rejected Western values and called for the establishment of a pan-Islamic state founded on the basis of Islamic Sharia Law.

Following the Arab Spring revolutions, Hamas’ ties with regional supporters, notably Iran and Syria, seemed strained after reports of Tehran slashing funds to Hamas. At the same time, the group’s strong-arm rule over the Gaza Strip and confrontational stance toward the outside world fueled an economic boycott by the West and rigid restrictions by Israel on the movement of goods and people.

Palestinian political analyst Ibrahim Ibrash said Hamas always adopts a politically pragmatic approach; they can change their policies and attitudes to suit the political circumstances and to maintain their presence in the political scene.

He said in a previous statement, "Hamas has been sending direct and indirect messages for years showing that it is no longer committed to its old doctrines which speak of affiliation to the Brotherhood.’’

Ibrash revealed that Hamas is concerned about the repercussions of the Arab Spring in the region, adding that the group may aim at reconciliation with Egypt and a number of Arab countries, suggesting a significant review of its resistance ideology.

Samir Ghattas, head of the Middle East Forum for Strategic Studies, ruled out the expectation that Hamas will abandon the Brotherhood entirely. He noted that the group’s new manifesto did not declare outright independence from the international group, as is the case of the Brotherhood in Jordan.

Hamas recognizes the 1967 borders
The ‘1967 borders' refers to the armistice lines from before June 1967’s Six Day War, when Israel took control of East Jerusalem, the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Golan Heights and Sinai Peninsula (the Sinai Peninsula was since returned to Egypt as part of the 1979 peace treaty). These territories are also referred to as Israeli-occupied territories.

A stark contradiction appeared in Hamas’ new manifesto, however, as it also announced its aim to establish an independent Palestinian state along the 4th of June 1967 borders.

“Without compromising its rejection of the Zionist entity and without relinquishing any Palestinian rights, Hamas considers the establishment of a fully sovereign and independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital along the borderlines of the 4th of June 1967 war … to be a formula of national consensus,” the document read.

On the other hand, the Israeli Prime Minister's Arabic media spokesman Ofir Gendelman remained wary: “Hamas tries to polish its image before the world, but we believe that they aim to destroy Israel,” he commented.

He added that Hamas’ recognition of the 1967 borders is just “camouflage” for its "terrorist plans" to attack Israeli territories.

Hamas' move comes two days before Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ scheduled visit to Washington and days after U.S. President Donald Trump told Reuters that he may travel to Israel this month to review peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.



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